Jonathan Vargas (Lead Cook) and Georinda Williams (Lead Cook)

The Guadalupe Centers catering department and its endless future in our community

For the Guadalupe Centers catering department it is more than just the quality food that they provide, but about the endless opportunities and areas of growth for its services. What once was a department that mainly did internal catering for such programs like our senior services and events, minimal third party catering, and at one point having a popular culinary arts program, has drastically changed, and will continue to.

The GCI catering department is “Important to the community because we are still providing a service to our seniors to keep an eye on them and engage them to ensure they are doing well,” Victor Lopez Sr. Director of Culinary Arts & Nutritional Services said. Under Victor’s leadership, the program which just served Jackson County, Mo seniors has also expanded its services to Wyandotte County, Ks. But Victor’s vision and progress for the department doesn’t just stop there, when asked about the future he said “to keep growing and not stay stagnant in one lane but expanding out into the corporate world and doing other types of catering services.”

Hoping that in the near future they will be another catering service option to Brancato’s, Hyvee, and Grandma Catering, respectively. Shirley Folch, Director of Human Resources asked the catering department to cater the Kansas City HR Executive Roundtable on December 15th at the Guadalupe Center. An opportunity so other organizational HR executives could see the “quality of service and food from a non-profit,” Shirley said, “so I decided to choose our team so they can see what they are capable off and hope it brings revenue to Guadalupe Centers.”

While the catering department will continue to provide hot meals for our seniors, frozen meals that grew out of COVID-19, and box lunches, it will also brand another branch of the catering department to provide third party catering services. To not confuse everyone the catering department will basically have two branches, one specific to direct services like our senior services and delivery program, while the second branch is specific to corporate style events and and be branded differently so it can “have it shine on its own under the Guadalupe Centers but as its own entity,” as Victor said.

The catering department also has a wealth of diverse talent with various skills and experience beneficial to the department team members including: Jonathan Vargas (Lead Cook), Juan Yeverino Vega (Prep Cook), Alejandra Armendariz – (Prep Cook), and Georinda Williams (Lead Cook). Georinda who is now a lead cook actually started off at Guadalupe Centers in the early 2000s receiving her food handlers and food safety certification. After receiving much experience working for various food service industry jobs she has returned.

“There is a lot of potential and this is a good opportunity for our catering services which will be a good expansion to utilize the kitchen and see more about what we can do and what we are about.” Georinda responded when asked about the vision for the department. The motivation and philosophy of the team according to Victor is “finding what brings everyone together and I think it’s the passion that we know we are trying to help but also grow.” Expanding its department to its endless possibilities. While the direct service part of the catering department provides foods for seniors like chorizo and egg bowls, meatloaf, oven baked fried chicken and other foods that are on a rotating schedule all provided by the senior services team.

With its new branch for corporate functions the styles will be food buffet type, breakfast, lunch, box lunches, and platters. Foods on the menu like scallop wrapped bacon, slides, taco bar are some of the favorites just to name a few. The catering services with both branches combined has provided its services to institutions like Metropolitan Community College, Evergy, the Unified Government of Wyandotte County, Guadalupe Centers Charter School, and internally for multiple events.

Supporting and considering Guadalupe Centers catering department as an option is also crucial because “we are coming from the community,” said Victor “the catering department, if profitable, goes back into the Guadalupe Centers to help with programs, going right back into the community.” The future for the Guadalupe Centers catering department is endless from just providing direct services specifically to our seniors to growing another branch to provide catering services across the Kansas City Metro, if I were you I’d be on the lookout for the future of this specific department.