Good Eats at This Bay Area School

District's program to make real, fresh food actually in the black

Berkeley public students eat better than many adults thanks to a sea-change in the city's school lunch program.

Teriyaki chicken, chilaquiles, spaghetti marinara and even pesto pizza are all on the menu, and all made from scratch.

Compare that to the horrific scenes of boxed, processed foods in a Huntington, West Virginia warehouse on celeb-chef Jamie Oliver's recent "Food Revolution" show, where Oliver tried to turn around the local school food programs to, well, be more like Berkeley.

Food blogger and former Washington Post staffer Ed Bruske spent a week working in the Berkeley Unified School District's central kitchen, mostly preparing the aforementioned chicken, and describes an experience vastly different than the one at his daughter's school in Washington.

There, the chicken came in the ubiquitous frozen and processed nugget form. In Berkeley? Real chicken on the bone is brined for days in soy sauce, vinegar, sesame oil, garlic, ginger and orange juice.

And the program, developed with the help of Alice Water's Chez Panisse Foundation and chef Ann Cooper, is a success in the most important way -- at least politically: It's actually turning a profit.

Jackson West wishes he could always eat so well.

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