Kiski Area food service chief wins state honors
Meredith Bailey says her job as Kiski Area School District's food service director is about more than tater tots.
She is responsible for all aspects of the district's food service operation, including budgeting, purchasing, staffing and training.
She makes sure meals meet complex and changing regulations, and that they taste good, too.
Sometimes, this means giving students food they may not recognize or want to eat — at least not at first.
Bailey is considered a leader and a mentor in her field, and it is for those reasons and more that she has been chosen as director of the year by the School Nutrition Association of Pennsylvania.
Bailey, 46, of Burrell Township will be honored at the association's annual conference Aug. 5 at Seven Springs Mountain Resort.
“Oh my gosh, I was really shocked. I was surprised,” she said. “I was really happy. It's a real honor, and I'm just very proud of it.”
As a state winner, she is a finalist for the School Nutrition Association's national director of the year award. The winner will be chosen in July, said Susan Meadows, president of the Pennsylvania association.
“She goes above and beyond,” said Meadows, food service manager for the Cumberland Valley School District. “She has worked really hard for all the kids of Pennsylvania, not only for her school district but for the state. She's lobbied in Washington, and has worked really hard for everyone.”
A native of Johnstown, Bailey has been food service director at Kiski Area since 2001.
“Mrs. Bailey is an outstanding ambassador for our district,” Superintendent John Meighan said. “Not only does she manage an excellent and creative program for our students, she is recognized for her contributions on a state (level) and, through her lobbying efforts, even a national level. I am proud to have her on our team.”
Bailey was previously food service director at Karns City Area School District for two years, and before that worked in the health care field for 10 years.
Bailey said she got “burned out” working in nursing homes and moved to schools for a much-needed change.
In April, Kiski Area served 47,000 lunches and nearly 15,000 breakfasts at its schools.
“I like it because it's challenging and things are always changing. It's never the same. Every day is something new going on,” she said. “One day you may be in the kitchen trying different foods, and the next day you're calling legislators about addressing issues that affect the school.
“It's more than just tater tots,” she said “It's very challenging, and it's not for everyone.”
Bailey is a past officer of the Pennsylvania association, including president, and has taught others, said Tricia Wood, a member of the group's board of directors and director at South Fayette School District.
“She's really involved with the legislative part,” Wood said. “She's always involved in the details.
“That's where the leadership part comes in. She's the go-to person for information. When there's changes in regulations she's the one filling everyone in.”
Bailey credited both Kiski Area and her family for supporting her. Bailey and her husband, Ken, have two sons, ages 21 and 6.
“I love it,” Bailey said. “I wouldn't go into any other profession.”
Brian C. Rittmeyer is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 724-226-4701 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.
- New Kensington residents vent anger at council meeting
- Principals question role of test scores in new evaluation process
- New Allegheny Valley Joint Sewage Authority manager welcomes challenge
- Bell Township museum delighted to receive WWI uniform of prominent native son
- Harrison rejects criticism of disorderly conduct ordinance
- Labor United Celebration draws 25,000 to Northmoreland Park
- Versatile U-PARC houses productive assortment
- ‘He’s still a part of this team’: Burrell honors player who died during preseason