Not the Same Old Grind

Meat grinders donated by Amazon to Tracy High through SJCOE a welcome addition to teaching kitchen

The FEAST Lab at Tracy High School provides culinary students access to state-of-the-art equipment, from the convection oven to the computerized cabinet used to put the finishing touch on the student-made salami produced in the high school kitchen.

The kitchen's meat grinder, however, wasn't state-of-the-art. "You put the meat in, and it stops," said instructor Doyle Dixon.

Those days are over, thanks to a donation of five commercial-grade meat grinders to Tracy Unified School District from Amazon.com, which has a fulfillment center in Tracy. The online retailer makes donations to schools in San Joaquin County, including the meat grinders that went to Tracy Unified and other districts. They were donated through the SJCOE Career Technical Education (CTE) department. The company has also donated power tools and other items to education in San Joaquin County.

Representatives from Tracy Unified, Amazon, and the SJCOE came to Tracy High on May 1 to welcome the addition of the new grinders, which sell for around $750 apiece.

"This is a big deal, because funds are always tight, and this kind of donation really has a positive impact on kids," County Superintendent of Schools James Mousalimas said.

Amazon representative Dani Tafoya said: "We're really excited to be able to help locally, where our associates live and work."

It's important for CTE students on any career pathway to have access to the type of equipment in the classroom that would be asked to use on the job, said SJCOE CTE Director Chris Kleinert.  "That's how students learn."

The FEAST Lab is used by CTE students at Tracy High as both a classroom and a working restaurant. Every other week, the students prepare and serve from 85 to 125 meals to students and the public during lunch, Tracy High Principal Jason Noll said.

Samantha, a Tracy High senior in the program, helped stock the food table at the informal event accepting the meat grinders. She had also helped make one of the types of salami being served -- a hard salami with flavors of fennel and orange zest.

Making salami starts with grinding meat, something that is no fun using the old meat grinder. "A lot of students hide and try not to get picked" when it's time to grind meat, she said.

But things will be different, now, she said.

"Students won't mind anymore."

Posted: 5/1/2018