SFE Brings Variety to School Breakfast, Lunch

by Ronnie Zamora/LFCISD

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Decisions, decisions.

Thanks to a contract with Southwest Food Excellence (SFE), Los Fresnos CISD students are now faced with the challenge with selecting from a larger variety of breakfast and lunch products at each of the 14 campuses.

“They are overwhelmed by so much variety,” said Rey Ovalle, SFE General Manager of Food Service who visits several campuses each day. “They have up to 10 options at the middle school and high school levels, and three different entrees at the elementary level.”

At the secondary schools, students have four varieties of food stations to choose. Students can select one entree and two side dishes from food stations aptly named Taco Street, Bistro Bowls, Ballpark, Pasta Express and Traditional Cuisine.

But the biggest change is the salad bar, where students can have all the salad they want. “The salad bar is before the point sale, not behind,” Ovalle said. “The kids can get an unlimited amount of fruit and vegetables from the salad bar as they go through to get their initial meal. They don’t have to pay extra.”

The salad bar trend has picked up at the elementary schools as well. “Cucumbers are popular here,” Ovalle said. “Students like tomatoes and carrot sticks are also popular.”

SFE even has a full-time chef on its staff. Sauriel Rivera visits the kitchens of all schools on a daily basis to make sure the staff is preparing meals properly. He has 15 years experience as a chef, where he has worked on cruise ships, and in five-star restaurants in Puerto Rico, Virgin Islands, around the U.S and Hawaii.

“This is a new experience for me,” Rivera said. “It’s so different than working on a cruise ship or fancy restaurants. I have nice feedback from students so far. They tell me they love the food. I have to keep in mind more of the salt and sugar content that we add to the food. There are certain standards that we have to follow on our menus.”

Ovalle is looking into the possibility of doing portable stands in the schools where outdoor dining is available.

“The biggest thing we have heard from students is deciding what to eat. Even though they know the menu, they struggle to decide what they want to eat because they want to try something different. We have to guide the little ones in Kindergarten and Pre-Kinder what to choose. But we’ve heard lots of positive comments from students.”

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