Wednesday, September 22, 2021     Volume: 22, Issue: 29

Santa Maria Sun / News

The following article was posted on July 20th, 2021, in the Santa Maria Sun - Volume 22, Issue 21 [ Submit a Story ]
The following articles were printed from Santa Maria Sun [] - Volume 22, Issue 21

Santa Maria-Bonita students taste-test milk as the district chooses a new vendor

By Karen Garcia

Three dairy vendors are bidding on Santa Maria-Bonita School District’s dairy contract to provide students with milk for their free breakfast and lunch meals. 

On July 16 Robert Bruce Elementary third and fourth graders participating in the Migrant Summer School program put the cartons of milk to the test.

Santa Maria-Bonita School District Food Service Coordinator Carlos Murta conducted a milk taste test with Robert Bruce Elementary School students on July 16.

Typically, vendors submit their proposal to an evaluation committee consisting of five district staff members who analyze and score the proposals based on competence and responsiveness, supplemental questionnaire and references, Food Safety-HACCP Plan and Plant Security, and reasonable proposed cost of services. 

Part of this process includes a tasting of the product by staff or students. 

During the recent taste test, about 40 students were split into four groups and brought into a classroom, one group at a time, where milk from Producers Dairy, Alta Dena Dairy, and Crystal Creamery was placed in front of them, according to district public information officer Maggie White.

Students were instructed to take a sip from the carton and rate the taste by giving it a happy or sad face. 

“I would say that the students took it very seriously. They would take a sip of the milk and you could see the wheels turning in their brain,” White said. 

The taste test, she said, was a way to inform the school board on what milk the students preferred. The test won’t be a deciding factor, but the district’s food service department stated that if there was one vendor that got lower than a 60 percent approval rating it would not go forward as part of the choices the school board would consider. 

The school board will decide on the 2021-22 milk vendor at the July 21 board meeting. Santa Maria-Bonita usually serves about 2.5 million meals during a normal school year, White said. 

During the 2020-21 school year, classrooms were closed, but the district still provided 1.3 million meals.

Of the nearly 17,000 students who attend school within the district, 42 percent eat breakfast at school and 87 percent of students eat a school-provided lunch. 

About 89 percent of students qualify under federal family income guidelines for free or reduced price meals, but 100 percent of students are eligible for no-cost meals thanks to the federal universal feeding program. 

The program provides meals to students regardless of their family’s income. 

Santa Maria-Bonita has participated in this program since 2005.

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