People of CRH: Cathie Correa

‘We’re In the Hospitality Business’

CRH kitchen professionals nourish the whole child

“What’s for dinner?” That good-natured phrase rings around homes in our community – and everywhere—each evening.

But for some kids, it’s a loaded question: Dinner for all too many is only a snack they were able to squirrel home from school, what they can hoard away to stave off starvation, or – for some – absolutely nothing at all.

For many of the children who come to CRH, plentiful, nutritious and delicious food is a completely new experience – one that our kitchen staff are happy and honored to help them with.

Take Kitchen Supervisor Cathie Correa: With more than 25 years’ experience cooking and caring for children in residential and educational settings, she’s all about the kids.

“We’re in the hospitality business,” she said. “I love feeding children – it’s important, it’s rewarding and it’s a great source of comfort to them.”

If a hungry child comes to CRH at 3 a.m., Cathie and the kitchen staff have that covered: Ten dinners are carefully set aside to serve all comers, all times of the night. If a child doesn’t like what’s for lunch, the staff prepare and offer alternative meals, day in, day out. They encourage kids to eat the familiar (such as pita chips) along with the healthy unfamiliar (garbanzo beans turned into hummus dip). They teach children of all ages to use utensils, to eat always-available fresh fruit and to have seconds if they wish. Food is served in the cheerful campus cafeteria, or directly delivered to special campus programs such as the Sprouts Trauma-Informed-Care Preschool, the Partial Hospitalization Program and the Acorns dorm, which houses kids ages 1-6.

The food all these children and youth receive is the end result of an astounding amount of preparation:

  • Safety guidelines – Walk around the kitchen, and everything is all about safety per local and state health regulations. Staff calibrate thermometers and test everything, every day; they log food temperatures for each and every item served; all refrigerators, freezers and pantries are checked to ensure they are at – and stay – at required levels. All foods must have expiration dates labeled – even items as small as granola bars. Included in these safety requirements are any child’s allergy/anaphylaxis concerns, such as peanut allergies.
  • Nutritional guidelines – That’s not just any sandwich: All elements of CRH meals must meet stringent California Department of Education standards – the very same ones required in all public schools throughout the state. Components of every item served must be logged to ensure nutritional requirements are met and the kitchen is subject to CDE audits to meet compliance – a recent June audit was passed with flying colors.
  • Cultural guidelines – Kitchen staff respect children’s cultural eating needs and help kids with their own special observations: When a Muslim child recently observed the month of Ramadan, during which meals are served before sunrise and after sunset, the kitchen staff ensured that the child had plenty of the religiously appropriate foods at the proper times.

“The staff in the kitchen — Janie Sherman, Charlotte Williams and Andreya Hernandez — work very hard: I couldn’t do it without them,” Cathie said.

But it’s time for Cathie to go—the next round of meals must be prepared, and kitchen staff are at it again: chopping cantaloupe for the healthy and popular salad bar, whirring dough in the industrial mixers and checking the giant list of produce on the wall.

“Children know you care for them when you feed them,” Cathie said.

Cathie’s soup is famous on campus! Here’s her secret recipe – serve it at your next large event or downsize the recipe with any free online recipe-conversion calculator.

Cathie’s CRH Posole (serves 50)

2 Gallons Chicken Stock

2-1/2 lbs. Diced Chicken

2-1/2 lbs. Diced Pork

2 Large Diced Onions

15 Cloves Garlic

1 Can Diced Chipotle Peppers

1 Can 26 oz. Diced Green Chiles or 2 lbs. Roasted Anaheim Chiles

3 Tablespoons Salt

1 Teaspoon Thyme

3 Bay Leaf

1/2 c Chile Powder

1/8 c Ground Cumin

1/4 c Oregano

1 #10 can Hominy

Place chicken stock in a 5-gallon stock pot. Place first nine ingredients in the pot of chicken stock. Cook on stove top on medium heat. Once the soup begins to boil lower heat. Simmer for 2 hours. Add last 4 ingredients. If more salt is needed to suit taste buds add more salt. Cook for 1 hour more. Serve with assorted toppings.

Toppings: Shredded Green Cabbage, Diced Avocados, Diced Onion, Lime Slices and Tortilla Strips