Almanac

Schools - October 19, 2011

M-A High's Snack Shack goes gourmet

by Jane Knoerle

The term snack shack conjures thoughts of limp hot dogs, soda pop, and candy bars sold at the high school football game. Not at Menlo-Atherton High School.

Under Friday night lights, M-A's Snack Shack offers such goodies as chicken teriyaki, pulled pork sandwiches with coleslaw, grilled hamburgers, chili (topped with fresh tomatoes, cheese, sour cream, onions), Chinese chicken salad, fresh fruit cup, and luscious desserts (rocky road brownies, red velvet cupcakes, Renee's famous chocolate chip cookies, mini cheesecakes), all prepared by M-A mom and volunteer Renee Moore.

Renee is not only a great cook, she believes in offering healthy choices. Her menu states: "All our food is fresh and, whenever possible, organic ingredients are used. We have tried to offer goods with no preservatives or fillers. Our hot dogs are all beef, nitrate free; our burgers are organic."

Popcorn, chips, peanuts in the shell, and trail mix replace candy bars. There is no soda, but a wide choice of bottled water, lemonade, ice team, assorted Gatorade and SoBe Lifewater. On chilly nights, hot chocolate (with whipped cream and marshmallows) and coffee are big sellers.

Since junior varsity games begin at 4 p.m., varsity games at 7 p.m., Snack Shack fare is dinner for many hungry students and their families. They're enthusiastic about having such high-quality choices. "You just have to try the pulled-pork sandwich," says parent volunteer Lauren Sabatini.

"People go crazy over the cookies," admits Renee. Her brother calls her chocolate chip cookies "the uglies" because they bake into amoeba-like shapes. For the last game, she made 300 of them and not one was left.

This is the second year Renee has been in charge of the Snack Shack. When asked by the Menlo-Atherton Football Association to take on the task, she said, "I'll do it, but it has to be healthy food."

She begins prep work for home games a week ahead, shopping at Costco, Trader Joe's and Smart & Final. She puts in a 15-hour-day on game day, with a half-dozen volunteers lending a hand Her husband, David, is one of the volunteers to man the barbecue grill.

She says members of the football team, including her son, Zack, a junior, are a great help in toting stuff on game day. As to clean-up, several parent volunteers take dirty dishes home to wash and return for the next game. All profits from the Snack Shack go directly to the football team.

"I've been cooking all my life," says Renee. Her first culinary experiments began at age 5 with an Easy Bake oven. "I picked it out of a Sears catalogue," since her family was living in Germany at the time. Growing up, she liked helping her mother, in the kitchen, especially cooking for parties.

At home in Menlo Park she enjoys cooking for her family, which includes Zack, Michelle, and older daughter Monique, a student at the University of Washington. "My kids will eat anything; they're not picky eaters."

There are two more home games, Oct. 21 and 28, for this season. Renee has also volunteered to run the Snack Shack for next year.

"It's a good feeling to be feeding people. And the parents are really grateful," says Renee.

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