By Ivy Fan, Eastside News
For delicious, nutritious, irresistible dishes, look no further than the Goodman Community Center’s programs for students and older adults. They haven’t just found one perfect meal, they’ve created a full menu. Recipes range from tried-and-true mac and cheese for the comfort food lover, to chicken stir-fry for the adventurous foodie curious about other cuisines.
Every day, the Goodman Center serves over 350 meals through various programs. Children enrolled in the preschool and 4K programs receive breakfast and lunch. For elementary, middle and high school students, it’s an after-school meal. Seniors can come for lunch every weekday. During the summer, the number of meals served per day rises to just under 850 with summer programs.
Despite the staggering amount of food to prepare, every meal is cooked from scratch using locally sourced ingredients when possible. Though it can be tough, the cooking team chooses to prepare the food in-house to provide better service to their diners.
“Gayle and Abby (who run the older adult program) came and said some seniors were asking for seconds.”
“When you’re making things from scratch, you’re able to flavor everything in layers … that offers a ton of control,” said Tyrone Reese, the recently departed assistant director of food resources at the Goodman Center. “The quality, well, that’s 10 times better. That’s just something that you can’t miss.”
Jermel McLin, food resources head chef, has succeeded Reese in managing the food resources team and is maintaining the same quality.
Beyond flavor, the food team is also mindful of dietary needs. By working with a nutritionist and referencing USDA guidelines, they ensure that young and old alike receive the right nutrients and portion sizes. Their meals avoid common restrictions like peanut allergies or lactose intolerance, as well as working around student-reported allergens. On top of that, meals served to students do not contain pork for those with religious concerns and always come paired with a vegetarian option.
All their hard work is paying off as the comments they hear are positive.
“I can be walking down the hallway in the center and a kid or an older adult from one of the programs will stop me and say, ‘You know, the lunch today was so good,’” said Reese.
“A couple of older adults recently popped in the kitchen to say they really loved the lasagna and bean salad,” McLin said. “And Gayle and Abby (who run the older adult program) came and said some seniors were asking for seconds.”
At the Goodman Center, diners need not fear getting bored of the same ol’, same ol’ several days in a row. The menu changes every day on a seven-week rotation, switching every half year between a spring/summer and fall/winter series. This helps keep the recipes seasonal to take advantage of local produce.
The team is always looking to add new recipes to the mix, finding inspiration in anything from an online article to seeing something different on TV. Especially for kids, McLin hopes the food can find the right balance between encouraging them to try something different and providing comfort favorites.
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