Tomorrow is mac n’ cheese day – best day EVER! As you might guess, it will for sure be the most popular meal of the week. This favorite comfort food always has our kids requesting seconds and returning to their day with a happy, satisfied tummy.
For the children living on KidsTLC’s campus, meal time is about more than just the food they are eating. Being able to depend on a warm, nutritious meal at the time it was promised is essential to their healing experience. We know that when children have their most basic needs met, they feel safer and more open to connecting with others. The connections formed on our campus each day are a critical component of the healing process as our children face traumatic pasts and begin to hope for a better future. For myself and the Food Services team at KidsTLC, this is the essential work we have the privilege of doing each day.
We have a lot of fun with food at KidsTLC, but this incredible work comes with its own unique set of challenges! All children living with us receive three nutritious meals and two snacks each day. For many of them, mealtime has not been a positive experience because they have endured a past riddled with neglect, and have often wondered when their tummy might feel full again. Enjoying a meal with those they trust is a time for processing and healing. Also, more than half of our clients require some sort of meal modification for food allergies, special diets and even juvenile diabetes. All of this is why our Food Services team makes a diligent effort to provide a variety of nutritious, yummy, “feel-good” foods for our kids. After all, who wants to eat the same old peanut butter and jelly every day?
Our most recent challenge, the COVID-19 pandemic, caused us to quickly shift to serving meals to our children in their respective living communities, rather than gathering in our cafeteria. We quickly figured out how to deliver fun and delicious “to go” meals, which was made possible by the community’s outpouring of support with to-go containers, individually packaged snacks and “sack lunch” goodies!
Like others that work at KidsTLC, our Food Services team is here for more than just the job – they are here because they care about our kids and want to see them succeed. The relationship building, side hugs and smiles that happen over a pizza night or donated holiday meal are the fuel that keep us going, even in the midst of the most challenging times. We cannot wait to resume our normal dining activities and see those smiling, hungry faces more often!
Speaking of which, you may have heard that KidsTLC has recently expanded to serve more children with the purchase of an adjacent property —which includes a new cafeteria! It is big, bright and the perfect space for us to safely welcome our kids back to an in-person dining community when the time comes. The kitchen is more than twice the size of our old one, not to mention the AMAZING walk-in freezer! We are so excited to be in this new space and create more meaningful connections with our kids over food.
Even though our Food Services team members may not be faces you are used to seeing, we want you to know that we are grateful that you have chosen to be a part of KidsTLC’s healing community. Your support makes our work possible and creates a healing mealtime experience for kids on our campus. Thank you for helping to give our children a brighter, healthier future!
Food Services Manager