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Food Service Staff Honored with Excellence Award

Pictured, left to right: Carolyn Michele Jones-Hightower, Tracee Collins, James Baird, Daysi Aquilar and Irma Lee Courtney.

Our food service staff are key players in ensuring safety and health. Daily, they not only provide nutrition, but a warm, welcoming environment for youth who have experienced trauma to connect with staff and each other over a lovingly prepared meal.

They recently received the 2019 Food Safety Excellence Award for “substantially exceeding the standards of the food code.” Only about 9% of Kansas City’s 3,977 permitted food establishments meet that standard. Matt Anderson, who leads the team, is quick to credit the work of his staff.

“My crew is a tight-knit group of individuals who derive strength from their uniqueness and love for the youth,” Matt shares. “We believe in offering them a meal as close to home cooking as possible, within the requirements set by the state and federal governments.”

One team member, James Baird, has worked in the kitchen on the Ozanam Campus for 10 years. In talking with him about his work, it’s evident that plenty of care goes into the entire food service process: planning, cooking and serving.

“Our youth have severe trauma, and we offer services and consistency with that in mind,” he explains. “They know that they will be offered a daily meal that is hearty, healthy and at a specific time. They can forget their problems and just enjoy.”

We’re incredibly proud of this team and grateful for their continual striving for excellence. We can’t change the painful experiences of our youth, but small comforts like a hot, delicious meal goes a long way as they continue their journey to healing.