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Laura Melcher serves up smiles

Photo: Redwood
Photo: Redwood
Photo: Redwood

She prepares 300 meals a day, five days a week.

That’s 1,500 meals a week, amounting to about 75,000 in a year.

Laura Melcher, the dietary manager at Redwood—a nonprofit, special needs facility for children and adults in Fort Mitchell—has been doing it for six years.

That’s a whopping total of some 450,000 meals.

“I enjoy giving back,” says the 49-year-old resident of Villa Hills. “I always knew about Redwood. I enjoy caring for people. I guess that’s just who I am.”

Melcher earned an Associate of Arts degree in graphic design at Northern Kentucky University, but there always was a food connection in her life.

“I was a dietary aid at Madonna Manor (senior living facility), and worked there until I was 30,” she says. She also ran the dietary department at Notre Dame Academy, her alma mater. And from 1999 to 2009, she, along with her husband and brother, ran the Country Grill in Dry Ridge.

She not only feeds about 300 clients a day at Redwood, but she prepares the menu, cooks and is generally a hands-on manager.

The hardest part of her job?

“Not being able to please everybody each and every day,” she says.

But that’s easily offset by seeing the smile she puts on the faces of Redwood’s clients each day.

The biggest smiles usually appear after Melcher makes her Redwood-famous mac ’n’ cheese dish. “That seems to be the favorite here,” she says.

“I enjoy seeing them (clients) happy,” she says. “I’m pleased they have a healthy meal. Some clients don’t live with their parents and their Redwood meal is the only wholesome meal of the day for them.”

Her favorite dish to prepare is chicken alfredo, she says, “because I can start from scratch. But I love to make soup—and my chicken and wild rice is at the top of my list.”

During her off hours, Melcher relaxes and experiments—where else?—in the kitchen.

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