Pacheco High School is hoping to inspire the next generation of local chefs.
Students now have the option of enrolling in a culinary arts program. It is vocational training that the Los Banos Unified School District wanted to offer when the school was built in 2010.
“There was a room set aside for it,” Superintendent Steve Tietjen said, adding that the state budget at the time did not provide the money to get the program started.
As Gov. Jerry Brown’s Local Control Funding Formula infuses more money into schools than has been seen since 2007, Pacheco High is finally able to afford to offer culinary classes.
School board trustees recently approved spending $83,000 for an initial purchase and installation of culinary equipment. Tietjen said he has also hired a culinary arts teacher. The program is being paid for by the Career and Technical Education funding set aside in Brown’s budget.
Trustee Dominic Falasco said he’s excited about the new offering.
“It’s a great program to have. That area has been neglected the past several years,” Falasco said. “We’re trying to open up more career opportunities for our students while they’re here, and this helps us do that.”
Tietjen said having vocational programs introduces students to more professions.
“Many times kids see what their parents do and they aren’t exposed to anything else. The more options you can expose the kids to, the better,” Tietjen said.
Kagome Inc., a local tomato processing business that produces salsas and sauces, has pledged $20,000 in scholarship funding to be divided between Pacheco and Los Banos High students planning careers in food science or agricultural manufacturing.
Tietjen said he’s had talks with officials at Kagome about assisting with Pacheco’s culinary program.
The program is expected to grow through the years.