A Portage Life in the Spotlight: Dawn Kelley

Sergio Valdes
By: Sergio Valdes Last Updated: December 30, 2020

Dawn Kelley, the Quality Assurance Coordinator for the Food Services Department at Portage Township Schools, strives to ensure that today’s youth are getting the highest-quality products they need to succeed. According to Kelley, working in the food industry is not just about serving good food, but serving good memories as well.

“From my past experiences in the food service industry, I have learned that planning is vital to a successful operation,” Kelley said. “Each day I am motivated by my drive to make sure food is easily accessible to our students and the children in our community. Right now during the pandemic, a lot of things are different for our students, so my goal is to try to give them some sense of normalcy with the meals we provide for them.”

Before working for Portage Townships Schools Food Service Department, Kelley worked in the food service industry as Restaurant General Manager, Director of Event Operations, and Retail Manager at Valparaiso University overseeing multiple dining outlets and the concessions department.

“I got into the food service industry because I love food and the fast pace of the operations,” Kelley said. “I started my career in restaurants and hotels but switched to working in schools for a better quality of family life. The better hours allowed me to have more time for my family while still doing what I love.”

Kelley also stated that her biggest inspiration is her grandmother, who helped cultivate her love for food.

“I fell in love with food while learning to cook with my grandmother,” Kelley said. “My favorite memory of my grandmother is her Sunday suppers. No invites were sent out, but everyone was welcome. If it was Sunday, you just knew Grandma had supper ready and the door was open.”

Serving the Portage Township Schools extended beyond her professional career and impacted Kelley on a personal level.

“Working for Portage Township Schools is a very fulfilling job,” she said. “Being part of a team that makes it their mission to make sure our students and the children in our community have food is very gratifying.  The Portage Township Schools Food Service Department is a great team that I am proud to be a part of.”

“The progress I have made in my career has made me feel like I am where I am meant to be,” Kelley said. “I feel like I have found my purpose working for Portage Township Schools. I am able to combine my love for food service operations and my love for my community and it is great.”

When she’s not working, Kelley enjoys Harley rides and family Jeep rides with her husband and three daughters. She also enjoys taking her daughters to dance class.