NewsLocal NewsIn Your NeighborhoodShafter / Wasco / Lost Hills


"Home style type of cooking": Lost Hills working from scratch for student meals

Lost Hills Lunches
Posted at 5:14 PM, Nov 17, 2023
  • Ahead of the 2022-23 school year, the state Legislature passed Assembly Bill 130 requiring public schools to provide nutritious breakfasts and lunches to students for free.
  • Nutrition Services Director for Lost Hills elementary school district Ray Valdez said part of what they do ensure they're eligible for more funding is crafting a majority of their meals from scratch or by using minimally processed foods.
  • Rita Barbosa has been working for the district for 35 years and said she enjoys the changes because she loves cooking and knowing that students are getting a healthy meal.
  • More information on the Universal Meal Program can be found on the California Department of Education website.

When you like me, think of a school lunch you're probably thinking of a frozen chicken patty, a couple of buns, and a carton of chocolate milk. The highest peak of milk. But with the universal meal program that was enacted for the 2022-23 school year, things have changed.

Assembly Bill 130 went into effect last year requiring schools to provide a nutritionally adequate breakfast and lunch to students. In Lost Hills, Ray Valdez, the nutrition services director, says they’ve stepped up to the plate to do a good portion of that from scratch.

"Now with the universal meals, especially with the KIT funding, the type of funding that is needed that we were able to apply for, they require us to have at least 40% of your menu to be from scratch or minimally processed items.”

And the students seem to enjoy what they’re picking up in the lunch line.

“From what we can gather, the kids really like the changes, especially our kids here. They like the home — the home style type of cooking. And they get that at home. So we try to keep that ongoing here at the school.”

Rita Barbosa has been working for the district for 35 years and said she loves the changes, mostly because she loves to cook, but she also appreciates knowing the students she serves are getting something healthy.

“I love cooking. The more I cook, the happier I am," said Barbosa in Spanish. "There is a lot of variety because the menus are not very repetitive, there is a lot of variety. We offer salads, beans, and different types of vegetables. [The meals] are also healthy for them.”

Stay in Touch with Us Anytime, Anywhere: