Food Services Coordinator, Marco Basurto, brings smiles and healthy meals to the Warren Village Early Learning Center students every day. He pursued his passion for cooking after learning from his father, who works in the restaurant business. Marco began cooking in restaurants, but he has been cooking for kids for over a decade.
Marco joined the team nearly three years ago, and since then, his food has become well-loved. Although chicken nuggets and burgers are frequent requests, Marco prides himself in preparing healthy meals for the kids. On this day, Marco prepared oatmeal with blueberries for breakfast. For lunch, the kids enjoyed Salisbury steak with gravy, mashed potatoes, pineapple, and a whole grain biscuit on the side.
“I don’t know what the kids eat outside of the Learning Center, and I don’t have control over that. Here, I’m able to provide them with good, healthy meals.”
Every day, Marco prepares daily meals from scratch and takes the time to listen to what the kids like and dislike. He often looks for new recipes that he thinks the kids will enjoy and tries to find healthy recipes with lower sodium or greater servings of fruits, vegetables, and protein. Marco does his best to cook what the little ones like, and he quickly learned that they are not fans of tuna. Although tuna was not a big hit, Marco’s homemade cornbread is a fan favorite.
When developing his daily menu, Marco is required to follow nutritional standards, but he appreciates having control over his own kitchen and being able to pursue his own ideas. He appreciates the freedom to cook with creativity and love, but says the most rewarding part of working at the Early Learning Center is the people he works with and the support they give him.
“Sometimes I get surprised that everybody knows my name, and they want to give me hugs and cards. One time, a little girl brought me a flower from outside. Little things like that are really special to me.”
Marco has built connections not only with his team members but also the kids at Warren Village. At times, it can be difficult working in early childhood education, but Marco is passionate about what he does. He is especially happy seeing others’ gratitude and appreciation for his home cooked meals.