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The Tongva Times

The Tongva Times

The Tongva Times

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Food staff improve Gabrielino students lunch experience with scratch-made food

Bren Belmonte
Food staff rush to prepare lunch for hundreds of hungry students and staff.

   The lines extend endlessly down the open cafeteria at Gabrielino. Gabrielino food staff, including Monet Soto, Araceli Campos, Elvia Rodriguez, and Annette Solis, must prepare lunch for hundreds of hungry students and teachers. These hard-working ladies spark joy with those they interact with, sharing smiles and love while passing lunch trays to students. 

   “We are all very kind and hardworking people,” stated Campos with a smile. She has served Gabrielino students for over four years. “It warms my heart to see students enjoying the food we prepare; we put a lot of love and care into making sure the food is good and the kids are well nourished.” 

   This school year, the San Gabriel Unified School District (SGUSD) is introducing “scratch-made food” to all campuses, including Gabrielino. 

   Scratch-made food is food prepared with fresh ingredients that have no preservatives or additives. As many Gabrielino students have grown tired of the daily Papa Johns slice of pepperoni pizza, scratch-made food has been introduced in hopes of improving student lunch satisfaction. 

   “All of the food is delivered to us from the Central Kitchen,” explained Soto, who has over six years of experience working in school cafeterias. “We are simply responsible for preparing it for students. We’ve had postole, chicken dumpling soup, chicken tortilla soup, and today we have tomato soup; our soup options change depending on the day.”

   Beyond receiving deliveries, the food staff also create fresh foods in the kitchen. 

   “We’ve started making food in the kitchen at Gabrielino ever since we hired two new chefs,” said Campos. “Even though we import most foods, we also prepare all kinds of fresh food in the kitchen, from salsa, to different kinds of soups, to chicken wrap sandwiches.”

   The lunch staff are happy to introduce and serve students higher quality foods, as they believe that the scratch made food will improve the outcomes of students, and allow them to remain healthy. 

   “I wish we could introduce more diverse foods; it depends on what our district manager thinks,” stated Solis, who has worked for multiple SGUSD campuses throughout her career. “I know it makes the kids happy when they eat the types of foods they have at home; my favorite foods to serve are carnitas and chicken tamales, since I know the kids love it.” 

   Rodriguez, who likes to embrace her Hispanic culture through the food she prepares, shares Solis’s feelings regarding the need for more diverse and inclusive dishes. 

   “Our variety is pretty good, but it would be nice to have food for more culture specific holidays so students feel more included,” stated Rodriguez, “I know that for Thanksgiving, we serve turkey and mashed potatoes, so it would be nice to do the same for holidays such as Chinese New Year and Easter.” 

   As fresh foods increasingly replace frozen foods within the cafeteria, food staff hope that students will experience boosted productivity and be more nourished. 

   “Food that’s made by scratch doesn’t just taste better, but you know what ingredients you’re getting,” explained Soto. “I believe students will have more energy and have an easier time getting through the day, and I believe they will be healthier.”

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About the Contributors
Mark Chammas, Staff Writer
Mark Chammas is a Staff Writer for the school newspaper. This is his first year on the team. Outside of his journalistic pursuits, Mark enjoys reading celebrity memoirs, listening to music, and playing video games. He joined the newspaper out of his love for writing and his appreciation for the school paper. Mark aims to cover topics of personal interest and address school-related issues he believes need more attention.
Bren Belmonte, Staff Writer
Bren Belmonte is a Photographer and Staff Writer with three years of experience on our newspaper team. Outside of journalism, Bren enjoys cosplaying, photographing friends, reading manga, watching anime, and listening to music. Bren chose the journalism class in sophomore year after encouragement from family members in the industry. Since then, they've recognized it as a future passion and career interest.
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