By Jocelyn Gecker
Jan 24, 2023
CONCORD, Calif. (AP) — As the fine-dining chef at her high school served samples of his newest recipes, Anahi Nava Flores gave her critique of a baguette sandwich with Toscano salami, organic Monterey Jack, arugula and a scratch-made basil spread: “This pesto aioli is good!”
Classmate Kentaro Turner devoured a deli-style pastrami melt on sourdough and moved on to free-range chicken simmered in chipotle broth with Spanish-style rice. “Everything is delicious!”
These are not words typically uttered in school cafeterias.
The food served at the suburban San Francisco school system, Mount Diablo Unified, reflects a trend away from mass-produced, reheated meals. Its lunch menus are filled with California-grown fruits and vegetables, grass-fed meats and recipes that defy the stereotype of inedible school food.
Among American schoolchildren, these students are in the lucky minority. Making fresh meals requires significant investment and, in many areas, an overhaul of how school kitchens have operated for decades. Inflation and supply chain disruptions have only made it harder on school nutrition directors, widening gaps in access to affordable, high-quality food.
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