Kitchen options for new center vetted

Community Center Workforce Group member Ken Witt shares his thoughts on what a new community center kitchen could entail at a meeting last week. Photo / Per Peterson

By Per Peterson

The Community Center Workforce Group last week narrowed its focus on various details that will shape what a new community center could look like.

The group, which consists of appointed Tracy citizens who are working in concert with Tracy City Council members, discussed at a meeting last Wednesday a number of items that each play into one another. The group worked off a framework for discussion that was provided by council member Seth Schmidt.

The first item of discussion was what kind of kitchen, if any, should be part of a new center. Debate involved implementing either a “catering” kitchen, a conventional kitchen, or a commercial kitchen, where food can actually be prepared. What food offerings will be available, the group agreed, depends on what kind of kitchen a new center will have.

“If we don’t have LSS (Lutheran Social Services), is there going to be a cook hired by the City?” CCWG member Ken Witt said. “If there isn’t a cook hired by the City, is something going to be catered? Is there an option for any reduced meals, (are there) any organizations willing to kick in money for reduced meals?”

Schmidt asked if the center includes a “catering” kitchen, could the City involve a business like Food Pride to offer meals. Witt said Food Pride isn’t ready to commit to providing multiple hot meals five days a week.

“I don’t think we can assume that Food Pride would do it every day,” he said.

Group member Shirley Anderson said a number of people historically have received free meals through LSS and wondered if the City were to use catered meals, who would help pay for them for those people.

“There were at least a dozen — who’s going to pay for those meals, for those who are low-income,” she said. “There are people who are living on less than $600 a month, that is extraordinary, they can’t afford it.”

Schmidt said, as a city council member, he would want to look seriously into setting aside some money to subsidize meals for low-income residents.

LSS continues to provide Meals on Wheels to a group of Tracy residents, but there’s no telling right now if it will set up shop and cook hot meals at a new center in Tracy like it did in the old Multi-Purpose Center.

“The last I heard in chatting with them is the funding for in-house dining was reduced from what it used to be,” Witt said. “There’s a little bit of a snag there with in-house dining.”

LSS would require a commercial kitchen in order to prepare meals in a new center.

“Isn’t that kind of an expensive gamble?” Tracy Mayor Pam Cooreman said. “If you put in a commercial kitchen and they don’t come back, then you’ve spent all this money on a commercial kitchen when you didn’t have to. We have to have a commitment from them, I would think, before you put in a commercial kitchen.”

See this week’s Headlight Herald for more on this article.