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Supporting the Community: Hospital Chefs Step In for Fremont Senior Center Chefs

July 22, 2014

Late in the afternoon on Monday, June 16, Washington Hospital’s Director of Food & Nutrition Services Kimberlee Alvari received an urgent phone call.  Suzanne Shenfil, Human Services Director for the City of Fremont, told her that both of the chefs for the Fremont Senior Center were unable to come to work for the remainder of the week due to unforeseen circumstances. Shenfil wondered if the hospital could provide a substitute chef for Wednesday, Thursday and Friday.

“Washington Hospital is just down the road from the Fremont Senior Center at Lake Elizabeth,” says Alvari, who is a registered dietitian. “The hospital has provided guest speakers for their programs from time to time – I’ve actually presented a program on nutrition there. So that’s why they thought about contacting us to help out. I didn’t have to think twice. I had no doubt about wanting to help. We saw this as a unique opportunity to reach out and help nourish the seniors in our community.”

Washington Hospital’s Catering Manager and Head Chef Alfredo Macias took over at Fremont Senior Center on Wednesday, preparing homemade meatloaf, mashed potatoes and gravy, vegetables, salad and dessert for approximately 100 seniors.

On Thursday, Elvis Lavarreda, a chef who cooks for hospital patients, prepared breaded chicken stuffed with mushrooms, pasta with tomato sauce, vegetables, salad and dessert. Lavarreda also prepared barbecued tri-tip steak, baked potatoes, vegetables, Caesar salad and dessert on Friday.

“We used fresh ingredients and made everything from scratch,” says Macias. “It was a great experience. All the helpers there are volunteers, and they all work together well. The people who came for lunch were all very nice, too.”

Alvari notes, “Our hospital chefs were uniquely qualified to help out at the Senior Center because of their training in food safety. It was a natural fit.”

Washington Hospital’s Food & Nutrition Services department also donates unused food supplies to the Alameda County Food Bank.

“Last December, we also had several volunteers from Washington Hospital working at the Food Bank,” Alvari says. “We are a community hospital, and we are here for our community. Supplying substitute chefs for the Senior Center was another opportunity to give back and nourish people in our District. We are happy to support services like this whenever we can.”

The Fremont Senior Center provides low-cost, nutritious meals for seniors on weekdays at noon. In addition, the center offers various classes, special events, day trips around the Bay Area, and longer trips to locations around the country and other destinations. For more information about the Fremont Senior Center, call (510) 790-6600 or visit www.fremont.gov and click on the link for Human Services under the “Department” tab. The Senior Center is listed on the left side of the Human Services page.