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Sacramento Schools Ready To Put Farm-To-Fork Into Student Lunches

SACRAMENTO -- The farm-to-fork lifestyle is blooming in one Sacramento school district.

Sacramento City Unified is launching its Central Kitchen Project, where food will be prepared locally and sent to schools. The project is being funded by Measure R which voters passed in 2012, to allow the district to improve the health and safety of children.

Hiram Johnson High School is one of 80 schools in the district that's getting a menu makeover. The goal of the project is to bring clean, locally grown food into the cafeteria. While cafeteria workers at Hiram Johnson High School unveil Monday's lunch, Sac City Unified is unveiling plans to turn a bus yard into a central kitchen.

"I'm kind of a picky eater too so I don't enjoy certain types of food," said senior Cody Tuyen.

He finds himself skipping meals during school.

"The chicken and hamburgers are dry," Tuyen said.

For athletes like Sabrina Lee, school lunches sometimes aren't an option.

"I've started to notice that I can't eat a lot of school food because my body doesn't feel as great like when I eat something healthier," Lee added.

According to Sacramento County's Department of Health and Human Services, 36 percent of 12- to 17-year-olds are obese.

The school district says it recognizes the need for nutrition-packed school meals, which is why it's getting ready to build a central kitchen. The hope is to make healthy eating a new trend.

"We are really gonna focus on dinner-style options, anything you see at a restaurant or have at home," said Diane Flores of the district.

Clean, fresh and local is the goal. Right now, most schools within Sac City Unified don't have the kitchen space to prepare food from scratch, often relying on frozen and processed foods.

"We are hoping to prepare something fresh, send it the next day, it will look better and taste better," Flores added.

Entrees will be made from scratch in the central kitchen, along with every other dish on the school menu.

"If it's grown locally it'll be more fresh and it'll taste better especially like fruits," said Tuyen.

The idea is appealing to him, and he says the farm-to-fork approach will entice more students to dine at the school cafeteria in hopes of getting kids to switch from burgers to berries.

The school district is holding a public meeting at Hiram Johnson High School on Wednesday to get input from parents and students. The central kitchen will launch in the Fall of 2021.

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