By Claud Mann
Like many Nutrition Service Directors, Lompoc’s Kathy Bertelsen is confronted daily with the same challenge: How to entice high school students to remain on campus to enjoy the fresh meals she and her staff prepare when the seductive call of fast food restaurants beckons the kids from only a block or two away?
This school year Kathy made a bold move that has paid off. She created and launched her own branded theme restaurant to give nearby fast food outlets a run for their money—and more importantly—offer students a healthful alternative to the type of food many typically seek outside of school.
The “Real and Fresh Grill”, inspired by Chipotle Mexican Grill, offers made-to-order wraps, salads, and bowls with fillings and toppings such as barbacoa pork, turkey adobo, homemade pinto beans, cilantro-lime brown rice, plus seasonal vegetables, shredded cheese and a choice of fresh-made salsas.
The remodeling and transition of a little-used teacher’s lounge into Kathy’s new concept café was funded by a grant from The Orfalea Foundation’s School Food Initiative. At roughly half the price of fast food competitors, Real & Fresh Grill has already caught on in a big way with students, staff, and now, the local press.