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West students happy with food

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By Mercy Lopez

The majority of West Las Vegas High School students are pleased with the meals being served by the district, according to a recent survey.

In June, the district’s school board unanimously agreed to outsource its food service program to Summit Foods for a one year. Last week the board heard an update from food service director Jose Baca. In December, Summit Foods surveyed the high school students.

“We are happy to report that the high school students were overall happy with the service,” Baca said. “There will always be a few that want more and different items … It has been a challenging year … We have made some mistakes and we have made some good changes in the meals.”

According the survey results, 56 percent of high school students thought the overall service and food provided is good, followed by roughly 31 percent saying it is excellent and 9 percent rating it very good. Roughly three percent said the food and service is fair and nobody rated it as poor.

“I see the food service staff members taking pride,” Baca said.

The program underwent several changes this past year. Different types of food are being served to adhere to federal dietary guidelines. Food service staff underwent additional trainings, and the food presentation has also been changed.

In September, food service officials were seeing additional students coming to enjoy their free meals — a statement that Baca said continues to be true.

One of the biggest changes the program implemented, was the addition of the nutrition bar that is filled with fresh fruits and vegetables. They also switched to whole grain products – also to comply with new guidelines.

The company recently surveyed elementary students, however, the company is still tallying those results. Baca did say the elementary students prefer the white flour tortillas instead of the “brown” wheat tortillas.

Board member Marvin Martinez questioned Baca on the kitchen equipment available throughout the district.

“I know you had to replace a few things and fix a few things,” Martinez said.

Baca said one of the biggest challenges within the program are the ovens to make the food.

“That was one of my biggest concerns …” Baca said. “If we have an oven go down, we need that fixed like yesterday...” Baca said he works with the district’s facility manager Jerry Maestas to try to get the equipment fixed in a timely manner. Baca reported that three ovens weren’t functional as of last week.

The program provides both breakfast and lunch to roughly 1,800 students throughout the district.

In other actions, the board:
• Recognized Danny Torres for his assistance with fiscal items while he was employed as an executive budget analyst with the state’s Public Education Department, prior to his retirement from that position.

• Approved a student school board member policy that will allow a student to represent students at the board meeting but will be a non-voting member.

• Discussed the baseball and softball fields on Cinder Road, specifically the rough condition the fields are in because of the drought.