Dana Rudy will comes to the Crook County School District with 12 years of experience

by: KEVIN SPERL - Crook County School District's new Nutrition Supervisor, Dana Rudy (left) meets with Crook County High School's Food Service Lead, Doreen Forrest.

Dana Rudy's career in food service started when she was in eighth grade.

That experience has led her to Crook County, where she recently took on the role of Nutrition Supervisor for the school district.

A native of Forest Knolls, Calif., Rudy has over seven years' experience in food service, 12 if you count her five years of working in cafeterias while a middle school and high school student.

"I've always wanted to be in charge of a district's food service," said Rudy, explaining that she hesitated in applying, believing she didn't have enough experience.

Liane Kaiser, nutrition manager for the Redmond school district, and her most recent boss, encouraged her to apply. Kaiser should know what's needed in Crook County, as she has worked part-time with the district, helping the schools meet current USDA guidelines.

Rudy and her husband of 22 years, Erick, along with their 19-year-old son Chris, and 14-year-old daughter Kelli, moved to Bend, from California, last summer.

"Erick is a native of Gates," said Rudy, “and always wanted to move back to Central Oregon.”

Erick found work as a commercial contractor and Rudy immediately went to work for the Redmond School District as the satellite kitchen operations manager.

“I was in charge of production, including meals, recipes and quality,” said Rudy, explaining that the district serves 1,400 meals per day.

When Rudy graduated from high school her food service career went on hiatus, as she found herself working in various commercial and retail enterprises. Rudy also spent 14 years running her husband's painting contractor business, working out of their home.

But she started to miss students, especially feeding them.

“When I realized that I didn’t want to be at home anymore, I looked to get back into food service,” she said, returning to work in the central kitchen of the Santa Rosa, Calif., school district.

“We served over 5,000 lunches to a student body of over 15,000,” said Rudy, “We prepared food and sent it out to all of the schools in the district.”

Wanting more personal contact with students, Rudy moved out of the kitchen and into one of the district’s high school cafeterias.

“That was the fun stuff, as I got to make fresh sandwiches and salads,” said Rudy, adding that she increased school lunch participation by over 200 percent.

Rudy is up for the challenges of her new job.

“I’ve heard through the grapevine that people here are not happy with pre-packaged food,” she said. “I want to move towards more fresh preparations.”

But first, Rudy wants to experience, and understand, what’s currently happening in the kitchens.

“I want to get to know the employees and talk to the kids and find out what they like and don’t like,” she said. “This is their food.”

Despite working full time, Rudy is also earning an AA degree in Nutrition and Business Management, having earned half of her credits at Santa Rosa Junior College.

In her spare time, Rudy likes to explore Central Oregon, using the family's fifth-wheel to visit the Gorge, Smith Rock and John Day.

“I’m really excited about this opportunity,” said Rudy, “I grew up in a small town and I’ve come to like Prineville. The people here seem to really get involved in the community. I hope I can count on their input as well.”

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