Matanuska-Susitna Borough

Open house for $12 million nutrition center

Mat-Su | Patty Sullivan | Sunday, April 29, 2007

PALMER— This Friday, you are invited to tour a new $12 million kitchen named in honor of a Palmer graduate and soldier who was killed in action in Iraq.

Cast aluminum letters will be mounted to the new building reading "SGT KURTIS D. K. ARCALA NUTRITION SERVICES CENTER" later this month. A bronze plaque with Arcala's name is posted inside next to a permanent display case with photos of the sergeant's life.

Arcala was a 2001 graduate from Palmer High. He died on Sept. 11, 2005, in Tikrit, Iraq. His mother, Angela Berberich, has worked in the Nutrition Services Dept. for the Matanuska-Susitna Borough School District for years. "I still can't believe it," Berberich said, of the honor paid her son.

The ceremony begins at 3 p.m., with facility tours to follow.

Cooks and bakers produce 8,000 meals per day in the new facility. Previously, food service workers prepared school lunches in tight spaces and with an odd collection of secondhand equipment at Iditarod Elementary School.

The new equipment includes:

  • Two steam kettles that together can simmer 350 gallons of soup, gravy, or sauce.
  • The Bowl Lift will lift and empty 300 quart mixer bowls onto the table.
  • The Rondo Dodge-Smart Line produces breads, rolls, biscuits, and pizza dough. It has automatic multi-rolling pins and a conveyor belt. It constantly kneads the product and shapes and cuts the product to specifications. It can produce 5,000 dinner rolls per shift.
  • Specially designed, heat-proof carts roll into the Baxter Vertical Rotating Ovens. The ovens raise and rotate two carts at a time for even cooking and can bake 84 trays of product. Gone are the days of transferring tray after tray of product from the cart to the oven, and back.

MAT-SU voters approved the bonds in 2005 that built this facility. Elected officials have been invited as well as members of the Arcala family. Gary Wolf, of Wolf Architecture in Palmer, designed the building. Janssen Contracting built the center.

The Kurtis Arcala Nutrition Services Center is located at 690 E. Cope Industrial Way in Palmer, just past the Palmer Ice Arena.

For more information contact Borough Public Affairs Manager Patty Sullivan at 745-9577 or Borough School District Public Information Officer Traci Crotteau at 746-9251 or the Kurtis Arcala Nutrition Services Center at 861-5100.