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Melissa Bates Named Asheville City Schools’ Director of School Nutrition

A familiar face to the Cougar Family has been selected as Asheville City Schools’ next Director of School Nutrition.  With nearly 20 years of school nutrition experience, Melissa Bates was recently chosen to lead the department. 

     “School Nutrition is my passion,” said Bates.  “I’m excited to oversee the program and work with my team to accomplish our common goal of serving students the best way we can.” 

    Bates has been in education since 1998. 

     She began her career in Yancey County as the Administrative Assistant for Program Directors, where she not only assisted the School Nutrition Director with the operation of their department but also entered and reconciled School Nutrition invoices and was instrumental in implementing the School Nutrition point of sale software.  

     Bates joined the Cougar Family in 2006 as the Administrative Assistant to the Director of School Nutrition. For 10 years she compiled individual school reports, carried out weekly food and supply orders for each school, was responsible for the Fresh Fruit and Vegetable Grant Program, assisted in processing free/reduced meal applications and initiated all local, state and federal financial reports.  

     In 2016, she became the School Nutrition Supervisor for Buncombe County Schools.  As such, she was responsible for the operations at 14 school cafeterias.  Additionally, while at BCS, she was in charge of the Head Start Program and the After School Snack Program.  Bates also created online meals using Nutrislice and managed the records for students with special diets and/or food allergies. 

     She returned to Asheville City Schools in March 2018, serving as Asheville Primary School’s Student Information Data Manager before being promoted as the district’s Magnet School Enrollment Coordinator in August 2019.  As the Magnet School Enrollment Coordinator, she was responsible for enrolling all new students, grades Kindergarten - 12th Grade.  This means she was not only tasked with following the state-mandated class size requirements but balanced it with the district’s federal desegregation order to maintain the racial balance of all schools.  

     “I feel it’s important that I’ve worked in different roles within our district,” she explained.  “It’s allowed me to understand how things work not only in the School Nutrition Department but in a busy front office.  Plus, it’s  given me the chance to build relationships with parents, principals and staff across ACS.”  

     Bates has served as Asheville City Schools’ Interim Director of School Nutrition since March 2021.  As the department’s interim leader, she has successfully managed School Nutrition’s accountability, communication, facilities, finances, food production, hiring, inventory procurement, menus, sanitation and the safety of her staff. 

     An added role for this school year is that Bates is leading the department through the USDA’s extensions of no-cost breakfasts and lunches for all students. 

     “This is the first time in my career I’ve seen all students receive free meals for an entire school year while they're on campus,” said Bates.  “We’re excited to support our families in this way and encourage all our parents to have their children eat with us.” 

    Bates holds an associate's degree in Office Systems Technology from Mayland Community College.  She earned her bachelor’s degree in Business Management from Mars Hill University, graduating Manga Cum Laude in December 2008.  

     When Bates is not at school, she enjoys spending time with her husband and their two little dogs, Lucy and Coco.  She is also an avid crocheter and relaxes by reading and watching movies.