#childsafety | Cooking with Kirby’s Chef Mike

Lunch is always a special time at the F.M. Kirby Children’s Center of the Madison Area YMCA. The anticipation of its arrival builds as students begin to smell the aromas coming from the kitchen. With a variety of meals served on a three-week rotation, students at Kirby are able to enjoy classic favorites like ground turkey tacos, sun-butter and jelly and Chef Mike’s famous meatloaf. Once a month on “Try it Tuesday”, students develop their palate while trying new foods and expanding their cultural awareness. These meals have included kale salad, eggplant, barfi and dumplings. Kirby Center Chef Mike Andersen, makes it his mission to incorporate healthy, diverse, and appetizing options into his weekly menu.

Prior to discovering his passion for cooking, Chef Mike previously held positions in both the School-Age program and the half-day Toddler program at Kirby. After receiving his Serve Safe Manager and Farm-to-School certifications from the US Department of Agriculture, Chef Mike took the lead in the Kirby kitchen, a position he has held for more than 10 years. At the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, Chef Mike supported families remotely by sharing helpful cooking tips and delicious recipes via the Madison Area YMCA’s YouTube channel. To prepare for the Center’s reopening, Chef Mike researched the best methods to further ensure the safety of Kirby students, which included individually-presented meals instead of family-style serving, use of disposable utensils, and increased cleaning and disinfecting.

In addition to providing meals for Kirby students, Chef Mike also provides the meals for the Madison Area YMCA’s Quest campers. Mike’s weekly menu often changes with what’s fresh during the season and is sure to include vegetarian options and alternatives for any dietary restrictions. The F.M. Kirby Children’s Center also participates in the Child and Adult Care Food Program (CACFP), which provides free or reduced-fee meals to families in need.

Promoting and maintaining the health and safety of children and staff is always a top priority at the Kirby Center. Staff at the Center follow strict health protocols in order to limit the spread of the coronavirus. Chef Mike follows these procedures in addition to every day actions taken to prevent the spread of illness.

To see what’s cooking this week, check out Kirby’s current menu online on the Madison Area YMCA website www.madisonareaymca.org/childcare-education/current-families.

Thinking about the fall and early education and childcare options? With enrollment growing and availability based on current capacity guidelines, parents are encouraged to secure their child’s enrollment spot today. Select summer and fall enrollment opportunities are available for new families with children ages 6 weeks to 5 years old. Please email Director of Child Care Services Karen Fusco at KFusco@madisonymca.org. Visit www.madisonareaymca.org for more information.

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