The Big Sandy Mountaineer -

FE Miley Elementary Kitchen gets a series of upgrades


May 24, 2023

The F.E. Miley kitchen has faced several years of change and fluctuation. Staffing changes, challenges that came with Covid, old equipment wearing out, and new regulations have prompted a significant face lift for Big Sandy Schools’ food service. Last year saw the replacement of floors and other upgrades. In recent weeks and in the coming months, the kitchen will receive the next round of upgrades.

I spoke with Lianna Heimbigner, the Food Service Director/Head Cook at Big Sandy Schools about recently acquired equipment and plans for renovations during the summer break. She explained that a recent purchase made from the Box Elder School has made the largest difference in terms of upgrades. She explained that their bid on appliances that were for sale was accepted earlier this year. “I was so happy. The new Flat top Grill, a convection oven, and the new five bin steam table came from Box Elder.” She explained that much of the kitchen’s old equipment was not working properly. Ovens didn’t work properly or frequently broke down, the flat top grill was inconsistent when heating because it was electric which is a less than ideal type of grill.

She went on to explain that the purchase wasn’t limited to the larger pieces of equipment. They also received new shelving and numerous other odds and ends. “They threw some stuff in that I didn’t have on my radar, like the tilt grill.” The purchase also included unexpected equipment including pots and pans, colanders, baking sheets, a hanging rack, and other items. With all of the upgrades, the necessity for facility upgrades became apparent. “This summer, we will have a new hood installed above our flat top grill and the tilt grill that we received new to us last year.”

The upgrades come on the heels of last year’s tile replacement, which was necessitated by the dishwasher breakdown. “The dishwasher went down, so we got a new dishwasher and underneath that was nasty old tiles that were damaged. We figured, well if we’re gonna do it, let’s do it from the floor up. The new countertops and the sinks are also from last summer.” The replacement of sinks and countertops were necessary to meet state regulations. The kitchen’s old countertops and sinks were grandfathered in and exempt from the newer regulations until the tile was replaced. At that time, the tile replacement required that the grandfathered equipment be replaced to meet state standards.

Lianna explained that the most important outcome of the

replacements and upgrades has been an improvement to the overall quality of the food they are serving to the students. “Instead of having everything cooked in the oven, like the grilled ham and cheese sandwiches. They’re like homemade, and they’re not dried out, because a convection oven tends to dry out the food. The hamburger patties are now cooked on the grill instead of the oven because they just taste better that way. They have a more homemade flavor.”

The final steps in the renovations will take place this summer.


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