January 2023 WaveCrest Cafe Newsletter
January 10th, 2023
NEW SMOKER USHERS IN THE YEAR WITH FLAVOR
Just in time for the cooler months comes some warm and cozy flavor courtesy of a new smoker. Thanks to an equipment grant, our team has been installing and testing a wood pellet smoker, and the first items are being served now.
We’ve found a tasty balance for a mix of beans that are being served across our locations. After letting the pellets heat up, the beans are smoked for 2.5 hours to let the flavors work their way in and deliver maximum flavor.
“We’re always looking for new ways to prepare and present foods that are exciting and appealing,” says Operations Manager Karolyn Wasung. “The rising popularity of food smokers and grilling culture is something that we’re able to participate in thanks to this grant and the expertise of our team.”
That team is hard at work testing smoker recipes and techniques for other items, including pulled pork and brisket. Says Karolyn, “We are working to find the right balance of flavor and cooking time for some of our entrees, especially with the quantity that we need to cook. Once we find the right approach we’ll start to introduce new smoked items to the menu; we’re going to be sure we get it right before it’s served.”
The smoker is the next step forward as we innovate and adapt to food trends and the changing and growing tastes of our community. Enjoy our smoked beans today. Be sure to check your school’s menu for the full selection of items and your daily favorites.
*** Menus are subject to change based on ingredient availability and staffing needs.
FARM 2 SCHOOL FEATURED FARMER: SMIT FARMS
Last month we mentioned that our Harvest of the Month apples came from Smit Farms, and we thought we’d share a little more of their story this month. Located in Linden, California, in the San Joaquin Valley, Smit Farms has been growing foods sustainably for more than 50 years.
Founded in 1969, Smit Farms grows kiwi, grapes, plums, Asian pears, plums, almonds, and more, including our December Harvest of the Month item, apples.
The Smit family has always been committed to sustainable farming practices that “allow the soils and those tilling them to coexist in the most natural environment possible.”
Almost all of their orchards have been certified organic, and these sustainable practices result in the highest quality of flavor and freshness. You can find Smit Farms produce at several San Diego area farmer’s markets.
We’re thrilled to have them as part of our Farm to School program and to serve their fresh, healthy, delicious foods.
WANT A JOB WITH PURPOSE? WE’RE HIRING!
If you’re looking for a job that lets you have fun and make a difference in the community, we’ve got one for you! With hours that don’t conflict with kids’ school schedules and a fantastic team of co-workers, WaveCrest Cafe may be just what you’re looking for. Work with a fantastic group of people and amazing students while fulfilling our mission to serve the best school meals.
Our team has the unique opportunity to interact with almost every student, every day. Those interactions make a big difference in our kids’ lives, and lead to long-lasting and meaningful friendships.
See all of our available positions here: https://wavecrestcafe.com/employment-opportunities/
HARVEST OF THE MONTH
FEATURED FOOD: GRAPES
We’re kicking off the 2023 Harvest Of The Month program by featuring a popular, familiar, and flavor-filled item: grapes. Grapes come in a variety of sizes and colors, including red, green, blue, and black, and technically they are classified as berries. They grow on woody, climbing vines, and thrive in tropical and subtropical climates.
In other words, they like the heat. So it’s no surprise that 97% of the grapes consumed in the United States are grown in California.
Popular & Healthy
Grapes are among the most popular fruits in the country. The average American eats about eight pounds of grapes per year! And those eight pounds are filled with beneficial vitamins and nutrients. 1/2 cup of grapes is a great source of vitamins C and K, as well as a source of healthy carbohydrates to provide the energy our bodies need. Grapes deliver a wide mix of vitamins, minerals, and fiber to our bodies.
If you’re looking for a healthy and easy snack or addition to a meal, grapes are a great option.
• Currently, there are more than 50 varieties of table grapes grown in California, 18 of which are considered major varieties.
• Thompson Seedless and Flame Seedless are the two dominant varieties produced in California, followed by Red Globe, Ruby Seedless, Crimson Seedless, and Perlette.
• Grapes are the number two ranked commodity in California, following dairy production.
• Nearly 80% of California’s table grapes are sold as fresh, while the remainder are processed.
• Most of California’s table grape production is in the southern San Joaquin Valley region, with the Coachella Valley region accounting for the bulk of the remaining production.
• Major grape-producing counties include Kern, Tulare, Riverside, and Fresno. Smaller production occurs in Madera, San Joaquin, San Bernardino, Kings, Merced, and Imperial counties.
Growing grapes takes time, and requires year-round attention. Vines need to grow for two years before the first grapes are ready for harvest. The growing cycle starts with pruning the vines in the winter. In early spring, growers “girdle” the vines, meaning they strip a small ring of bark from the trunk to prevent nutrients from going from the leaves back down to the roots.
Since the leaves retain more nutrients, the berries are able to grow larger in a shorter period of time. The third stage is called “bud break,” followed by a burst in leaf growth. In the fourth stage, branches, or caneshoots, grow rapidly and flower clusters emerge. In the final stage, blooming occurs when temperatures reach at least 68 F and young “berries” (grapes) appear in place of flowers and ripen into clusters.
Learn more about grapes and discover how delicious they are. You can download our Harvest of the Month resources for families here.
If your child’s teacher wants to sign up for the program, it’s easy. For more information about the program, classroom tasting parties, and more, email Scarlett Smith.
No Cost for School Meals This Year!
We are thrilled to announce that there will be no cost for school meals in this 2022-23 school year. What’s more, there is no paperwork required for anyone, making meals not just available at no cost, but accessible for all.
Not only can families save plenty of money on food, but with meals ready at school, you’ll have more time to spend together as a family! As always, we are committed to serving fresh, healthy, delicious meals, and working with as many local and California-based farms as possible.
Join us for breakfast and lunch daily. Good nutrition leads to better learning, and we are here to serve up tasty and nutritious meals to power learning all year long.
*** With meals being offered at no charge, we are anticipating more students will be dining with us. This may affect the availability of some entrees as we learn and adapt to greater numbers and meeting the demand.
Hot & Spicy Chicken Tenders with Texas Toast
Here’s another entree perfect for our cooler months at our middle and high schools. Our middle and high schoolers like to bring the spice, and these tenders are just what they ordered. Hot & Spicy with tons of taste, these tender pieces of white meat chicken are also packed with protein and minerals to power students’ learning.
And we don’t stop with just the tenders! A healthy side of whole grain-rich Texas Toast comes with the meal. Add fresh, seasonal fruits and veggies and make it a bold and flavorful meal.
Be sure to check your school’s menu to see your daily options and enjoy our fresh, healthy, and delicious meals!
RESOURCES, GRANTS, AND EVENTS
Request A Master Gardener For Your School
The San Diego County Master Gardener Association provides Master Gardeners to help schools set up and maintain gardens. Master Gardeners act as consultants, mentoring parents and teachers who request help with beginning or improving their school gardens. Request a garden consultant here.
Educational Garden Design Grant – Rolling Dates
The California Native Garden Foundation offers grants for school gardens that feature CA native plants. Types of support include garden design services, in-kind donations of plants and landscape materials, volunteer assistance, and direct financial assistance. Click here to learn more and to apply.
Solana Center Workshops – Rolling Dates
The Solana Center hosts a variety of workshops and lessons across San Diego County, with topics including composting, raising backyard chickens, green living, and water-wise gardening. Check out their events calendar here.
Bonnie’s Plants 3rd Grade Cabbage Program – Rolling Dates
Bonnie’s provides free mega-cabbage plants to 3rd-grade teachers across the US who want to participate. Students grow the cabbages and submit pictures and measurements of their harvest to be considered for a $1,000 scholarship. Find out how to participate here.
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(C) 2023 WaveCrest Cafe / Vista Unified School District
This institution is an equal opportunity provider.
Esta institución es un proveedor de igualdad de oportunidades.