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Students Love the $1.6 Million Kitchen Upgrade at Madison Park Upper
In April, 2017, Madison Park Academy (MPA) opened a state of the art kitchen which has already transformed the food service the school provides for close to 800 students on the upper campus each day. Thanks to funds collected by Measure J, which voters overwhelmingly passed in 2012 to improve the quality of Oakland schools and facilities, the $1.6 million kitchen is now a source of pride and much improved capacity to provide students with nutritious meals.
The blue floor, which reflect the school colors, is the only thing remaining from original kitchen. Equipped with brand new ovens, a two-part walk-in freezer, dry storage, supplies all the way down to the drainage and piping underground, the space has a professional shine. Whereas in the old kitchen, it took hours to serve students from just one set of working burners, lunch service now takes about 15 minutes.
At the middle and high school that comprise MPA upper, around 90% of students are eligible for free and reduced price lunch and the entire campus eats for free. Often students eat all of their meals at school which makes the quality of the morning breakfast, mid-morning snack, lunch, and an afternoon snack even more important.
“Healthy food is what supports kids” said Dr. Lucinda Taylor, MPA Principal. “The mission of this kitchen is to make sure kids are getting quality food. We see the impact in how they perform in classes and the kids are much happier, that’s for sure!”
For most of this school year, nutrition staff served students in the multipurpose room, which was less than ideal. During the eight months of construction, students ate pre-packaged food that “kids hated!” With the expanded space, not only is lunch is much more efficient but students have access to homemade meals, fresh fruits and vegetables. Each day, students can choose from three entrees for lunch.
Ms. Irby, who leads the nutrition service team that cooks for students at MPA, reported that main reaction they get to the kitchen transformation is “wow!” She is grateful for the upgrade which “makes it easier for us to work” and among the many things to appreciate highlighted that students “love to smell the food being cooked. While it was being built, they didn’t have that.”