Hispanic Heritage Month Profile: Dallas ISD chef dishes out love of food and service to students and colleagues

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Chef Juanita Mejia is a food service specialist in Dallas ISD’s Food and Child Nutrition Services, where she has the honor of training school cafeteria staff members to provide delicious food and impeccable service to students and staff members. In her role, Mejia utilizes her more than 20 years of culinary experience to empower trainees to be more efficient in the kitchen, read recipes, and prepare food that is tasty and visually appealing.

Mejia is well respected and regarded by those in her charge, because she has an amazing ability to connect with each individual in a personal way.

“I was always taught to treat everyone in the way that I would like to be treated, and with the utmost importance,” Mejia said.

In addition to her role as a trainer, she often has the opportunity to represent her department at food tastings, community fairs, and other events where she gets to engage with students and parents directly. She loves to give parents tips on how to prepare healthy meals that are simple and inexpensive.

“God has blessed me with skills and experience that I can use to help other people,” said Mejia. “At Dallas ISD, we are one big community helping each other and making each other better.”

Chef Mejia is a second generation Mexican-American. She was born in Butte, Mont., and grew up in Chicago, Ill., where she attended The Cooking and Hospitality Institute of Chicago and received her formal training as a chef. She is a loving wife and doting mother and grandmother, and finds that food has an interesting way of bringing the family together.

“Food and recipes are a part of my life,” she said. “The taste and smell of delectable dishes triggers a memory association with celebrations, loved ones, and thoughtful recollections. Food is the centerpiece that brings all walks of life together.”

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