After the former Paso Robles School District's food services manager faced criminal charges for alleged conflict of interest, a new leader is taking on the challenge of feeding hundreds of students in the district.
The new menu at Paso Robles schools features a taste of the south.
The new food services manager, Joseph Vaughn, is an Alabama-native with 23 years of prior school food service experience in Alabama, Cleveland, and Los Angeles.
Currently, the number of Paso Robles students who eat breakfast or lunch at school is low, less than 30 percent.
"Because most of our schools do not have full kitchens and enough storage space, the meals are actually run through a machine here with a plastic wrapping across the top -- a heat and serve meal," Vaughn said. "What's happened in the past is, typically, we've had one hot item and two cold items. The first thing I wanted to do in the short term is improve quality of the entrée. We're working to go to three hot items for lunch."
Vaughn plans to increase student participation to over 50 percent by offering bigger portions and more hot food options to lure in students.
He wants to improve the way kids view school lunch.
"I'm a person whose always taken offense to those movies that stereotype cafeteria food as being bad." Vaughn said. "If you think about it, every movie you've ever seen, the cafeteria lady is some obese person and the kids are talking about how nasty the food is. That's not necessarily the case. Cafeteria food can be as good as the quality you purchase and the cooks preparing the meal."
This position was vacated last year after the district's former food services manager, Greg Wangard, faced criminal charges for alleged conflict of interest.
Wangard held the role from November 2015 to June 2019.
In court documents filed at San Luis Obispo Superior Court, prosecutors claim Wangard made contracts valued at nearly $2,800 with a company owned by his spouse.
Because of Wangard's financial interest in the company, he faces five misdemeanor charges.
Vaughn said he's prepared to get this department back on track.
"I can't speak to anything that happened before I started," Vaughn said. "We're moving forward and hope to have a great year and hopefully a great number of years."