Spending time with others through cooking and shared meals is a universal way that we foster community and connection with each other, no matter who we are or where we come from.
In honor of March being Women’s History Month as well as Nutrition Month, we wanted to recognize the women chefs and cooks who support the dining programs that foster health and connection among older adults in their communities.
Hayla Thompson has been working at Margie’s Café for the last year, serving healthy and delicious food to patrons of the Senior Center of West Seattle. Hayla is a self-taught cook and has utilized a lot of creativity to develop healthy and flavorful meals around multiple dietary restrictions.
“I cook a lot of vegan things, and I make sure there are vegetarian and vegan options every day. I want people to come in knowing they can eat a meal that fits their needs and doesn’t feel like an afterthought. I want people who are vegan, vegetarian, or gluten-intolerant to know that there is food there for them.”
Before working in the café, Hayla was a volunteer with Community Dining and is continuously inspired by the creativity of food and by ingredients from different cultural cuisines.
While she hasn’t had a lot of experience working in commercial kitchens, Hayla is aware of the gender disparity that exists for women chefs and is grateful that er own experience has been overwhelmingly positive at the Senior Center of West Seattle. “They are great about fostering a safe environment, and there is no room for bad attitudes. Everyone is respectful.”
Hayla’s goal for the future is to become a Community Dining chef and to continue carrying out the positive culture and goal of putting out good meals every day with a lot of love and kindness.