Longtime food service director dishes team attitude
When Darrell Bowersox stations himself next to the conveyor belt in the Harter Union cafeteria, he's tracking the leftover food found on the dishes.
Bowersox soon discovers the students' culinary likes and dislikes. He makes sure to adjust the menus accordingly.
"You know instantly what people are eating and not eating," said Bowersox, director of food service at Baker University. "It also gives me time to talk to students and get to know them. If someone knows you and knows your name, the more likely they'll walk in the door and say something to you."
Bowersox has worked in food service for 32 years, including the past 21 years at Baker. Before coming to Baker in the mid-1980s, the former Navy cook directed food service at Hutchinson Community College.
"It's a challenge to keep people happy with all their different food tastes," said Bowersox, a Coffeyville native and Pittsburg State graduate. "I listen and I try hard to have a good program to start with. You have to care about what you do."
Bowersox credits the devotion of his food service workers, including three long-time employees, for the department's success. Amanda Barnes (24 years), Linda Eckman (22 years) and Johnnie Jardon (21 years) have been at Baker since Bowersox began working there.
"We're very blessed," said Bowersox, who oversees 12 full-time employees. "We have a lot of people who have been here a long time and Baker is more than a job to them. They really care about what they do. The trick is to keep it all going at same time: the Wildcat Cafe, catering, cafeteria and concessions at the football stadium."
Bowersox and his staff are willing to take on any duty to make sure all the food programs thrive.
"We'll do whatever it takes to get the job done, whether it's mopping the floor or doing the dishes," he said. "That shows everybody that their job is important. We have an army without rank."
Tanya Sieber, catering coordinator, appreciates the trust Bowersox has in her and the rest of the staff.
"I have creative culinary freedom for the first time in my professional career," Sieber said. "Darrell trusts me enough to step back and let me do my thing. Darrell is also the first person to jump in and help me when I need it. We are a team and all work together. I can always count on Darrell to cover for me when I can't be here and need help with the bigger functions."
Bowersox cares about the community. He's been involved in numerous Baldwin City organizations, including the Lions Club, American Legion, Maple Leaf Committee and the Boy Scouts.
"Darrell has been instrumental in developing and strengthening Baker's relationship with the community through his own ties with the groups," said Sieber. "He has always been willing to spend his own time and energy putting these things together for the community because he feels it's important."