In March 1995, the West Contra Costa Unified School District decided that it needed an integrated nutrition center so that its food-service department could provide 30,000 meals per day to students. The new facility was to be constructed on the same site that housed an existing central kitchen in deteriorated modular buildings. The architect and district staff analyzed COST PER SQ FT$218.36FEATURED IN2001 Architectural PortfolioSUB CATEGORYSpecialized strategies for building a new facility and continued to use the existing central kitchen during construction. An adjacent existing building, used for other district warehousing functions, was to be remodeled and incorporated into the new facility plan. After the district occupied the Nutrition Center, the old central kitchen was to be demolished, and the space used for a staff and visitor parking area.
The architect teamed with the district’s food facility consultant to determine the program and physical requirements for the project. Processes were mapped to determine optimal layout and workflow. Existing facilities and equipment were surveyed to determine condition, useful life and possible reuse. Program and budget adjustments were made to fit the district’s vision of its needs. Finally neighborhood residents were invited to view and comment on the proposed design concept.
The final design of the Nutrition Center consolidates all food-preparation functions, including warehousing and food banking, under one roof. A more cost-effective processing system, based on cook/chill and prepacks, was implemented. The expanded facility allowed increased menu offerings such as bakery products, and a large storage and distribution capability allowed costs savings through bulk purchasing. Accommodation for future growth also was included in the planning.
Many difficult planning issues, particularly delivery truck traffic, were resolved with help from the city of Richmond and the local neighborhoods. The final design delivers a neighborhood-friendly facility that incorporates efficient technologies in a cost-effective manner. The Nutrition Center presents an attractive, human face to the public while assisting the school district in carrying out its educational mission.
Studies have consistently shown that children receiving proper nutrition perform better in school. The West Contra Costa Unified School District views the provision of 30,000 meals a day as an important part of its overall educational mission, as well as a service to the community.