Hays woman happy to find new role with Hays USD 489



Jessica Calhoun's new job as Hays USD 489 nutrition services director is a perfect fit.

"This is the kind of job that I've always wanted since I started my college career," Calhoun said. "I'm lucky to get to be here."

Calhoun, a registered dietician, was appointed in June to replace Shiela Brening, who retired after 35 years with the school district.

A native of Derby, Calhoun earned her degree from Kansas State University.

She first worked in a hospital on "the therapeutic side of dietetics. That wasn't a good fit. I was doing that in Kansas City, and I didn't really like the big city life."

A food service management position at Chartwells on the Fort Hays State University campus brought her to Hays.

Working in food service management and the Hays community were a better fit, but the school district job is the one she "really wanted."

At USD 489, Calhoun manages approximately 40 employees in the food services department, 38 in the kitchens, one driver who makes deliveries and an administrative assistant.

The district has three base kitchens -- Hays High School, Hays Middle School and Roosevelt Elementary School -- where the entrees and breads are prepared.

Because the district provides meals for Munjor day care and the Head Start programs, she is responsible for menu planning for infants to adults.

Brening has developed a financially successful program that has good participation in the district, so Calhoun doesn't plan to make any immediate changes in the department except those required by regulations.

The department's budget and bidding for supplies and food also falls under Calhoun's job description.

"I have the nutrition specialty and also the management aspect, so it's the perfect job for me. I really like Hays, and I plan on being here for a long time," she said.

Calhoun doesn't have much spare time, but she likes trying new foods and new recipes.

She's engaged to Brad Younker, and the couple plans to spend fall weekends in Manhattan.

"We have season tickets to football games," Calhoun said. "I grew up as a fan. That's when I see my family in the fall at the football games."