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Powell turns interest in food preparation into career in Liberal PDF Print E-mail
Monday, 09 October 2017 12:01

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By ROBERT PIERCE
• Leader & Times



Heather Powell is the meal site manager at the Liberal Senior Center. She talked about some of what her job entails, working with the center’s new kitchen and the work atmosphere at the center.


Q: When did you start?

A: I’ve been here since the first of April.



Q: What got you started?

A: I had a previous job before here. This job just kind of fell in my lab. It just kind of worked out perfectly that way.



Q: Have you had any desire to do stuff like this, or is there other stuff you wanted to do prior to this?

A: I’d always been interested in food I guess you could say, but in this side of things, I never really had any desire to look into it. But come down to it, it’s worked out really well.



Q: What has the new kitchen been like?

A: It’s been amazing. I came on right in the middle of the kitchen project. I was here for at least a good three months before the kitchen actually opened. 

From what I’ve seen, it’s been great to have the kitchen open. We’ve seen our numbers go up. It’s been really good.



Q: So you got to see some of what it was like to work under the former meal format?

A: We had the meals made somewhere else, and we went and picked them up and brought them in. I got to experience a little bit of that.



Q: Do you like the transition?

A: It was good. I think it works a little bit better this way. We don’t have to worry about sending anybody to go get the food. It’s already here and ready. It’s just worked out really well.



Q: How have the customers been with the new kitchen? Do they like the food better?

A: From what I’m hearing, yes. I haven’t really heard any negatives. Everybody seems to really like it.



Q: What’s your average day like?

A: I’m actually not involved in the cooking myself. I have been. I actually had to spend a month in the kitchen when we were needing a second cook. I had to spend a month actually doing the work. 

I come in at 9, and I double check and make sure that we have the numbers ready so we have the numbers for those meals going home to people that are homebound and also for the people who have let me know that are coming in for the congregate meals. 

I have to double check my numbers and make sure that I have my numbers down. I just check and make sure everything’s ready to go. I always check in on the cooks in the kitchen and see how everything’s going there, see if they need anything, see the progress they’re making, check in with my two delivery drivers, see if they have anything they need, see if they’re on track.



Q: How many homebound meals do you serve?

A: I think we have right now 55 give or take. Not everybody takes a meal every day. Sometimes, people may not be home.



Q: How are you volunteer-wise?

A: The two drivers that we have are actually SCCOA (Seward County Council on Aging) employees, but we don’t really have any volunteers right now. That would be something great that we could use for substitute drivers or whatever the case may be.



Q: How do I get meals in my home?

A: First of all, they have to qualify. To qualify for the Friendship Meal program, you have to be 60 or over. 

For a homebound meal, of course, you’d have to meet the age qualification, but you would have to be considered true homebound. You’re not able to get out – homebound people.

What they would do is they would call me and say, “Hey I’m interested in doing this.” What I would end up doing is I would go to their home. I would speak with them in their home, ask them a few questions, fill out some paperwork.

If they do qualify for a homebound meal, we would start them up on a homebound meal. They may not necessarily qualify for homebound, but anybody can come into the center. 

To qualify for getting your meal at $3.50, you have to be 60 or over, but anybody can come into the center and eat regardless of your age. You just have to pay the full $5.50 price.



Q: How many do you serve here in the center?

A: That number fluctuates all the time. It also depends on the day, what we’re having, what’s going on here at the center. I think the most we’ve had is maybe 17 or 18. We’ve had as few as four or five. It really just kind of depends.



Q: How would you say this compares to your previous jobs?

A: I haven’t done anything like this ever. I don’t even know if I could compare it. As far as how much I like it, I love this job. I love it. I’m able to do something that I enjoy and also have time to be a mom and spend time with my daughter and my husband. It’s really nice.



Q: Would you say that there’s a family atmosphere in here as far as the employees?

A: I would say so. Every place has their issues, but I love it here. People are genuinely pretty nice usually.

 

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The High Plains Daily Leader and Southwest Daily Times are published Sunday through Friday and reaches homes throughout the Liberal, Kansas retail trade zone. The Leader & Times is the official newspaper of Seward County, USD No. 480, USD No. 483 and the cities of Liberal and Kismet.  The Leader & Times is a member of the Liberal Chamber of Commerce, the Kansas Press Association and the Associated Press.

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