Friday Focus

March 19, 2021


School Nutrition Association

All Managers are members of the School Nutrition Association (national) and the Indiana School Nutrition Association (state). We pay your memberships annually and hope that you will take advantage of belonging to this professional association. SNA publishes monthly magazines and ISNA publishes one quarterly. This month, SNA members joined forces virtually during the Legislative Action Conference to "Zoom" the Hill in Washington, DC. Members like you from across the country met with lawmakers and advocated for permanent funding for Universal Free Meals. At one point during a Zoom call, actor Matthew McConaughey joined in to help promote school meals. Remember, all the rules and regulations you have to observe in your job every day, are a result of the people you elect to Congress who make the decisions. I urge you to learn more about the legislation and policy that governs our programs here:

Summer School

Plans are underway to offer in person summer school for students. Middle and High School students will attend summer school at VHS. Elementary students will attend summer school at both TJE and TJM. By having the additional location, students will be able to social distance and more classes will be offered. There will be two 14 day sessions, one in June and one in July. We will be providing free summer meals to these students. We also intend to continue a weekly distribution of free 5 day meal kits. We are developing a way to have families pre-order their meal kits. Employees will have an opportunity to work these programs. Stay tuned for more information.

P-EBT Cards

The Indiana Family and Social Services Administration (FSSA) is issuing funds for food assistance to every free and reduced price eligible student for days when the student is learning virtually. School districts have to submit this information to the state and a debit card will be sent to each student in a family pre-loaded with funds to purchase food at the grocery store. Each child will receive $6.82 for every day they are eligible. These cards are referred to as P-EBT which stands for Pandemic Electronic Benefits Transfer. These funds will be distributed every three months and the next issuance date is April 30. Please print this flyer so you can share information with your staff and answer questions if you receive them:


This week's shout out goes to Amber Marrs, Production Lead at VHS. Amber leads the Deli Team that produces fruit and vegetable sides, salads, condiments and keeps a la carte beverages stocked. While Covid has impacted all of us, probably some of the biggest challenges fell to Amber and her team based on the sheer volume they produce. She prepares two tons (4,000 lbs.) of fruit and vegetable sides each month which all have to be packaged. It is remarkable to see how she has reorganized production to accommodate packaging of over 1,200 sides per day! Thank you to Amber for being so flexible and willing to experiment with new methods. One thing about Amber that really impresses me is that she does not quit until she finds a way to keep quality and display the best it can be.
Big picture

Commodity Diversion

Last week we learned about how we receive entitlement funds to purchase USDA commodity foods. We learned that pounds of raw commodities (beef, chicken, pork, etc.) were purchased and then "diverted" to manufacturers to make items that we use in our menu. But who sets the price of these foods that we purchase? Fair market value of commodity foods is established each November and the United States Department of Agriculture makes massive purchases of these foods from farmers. USDA gives each state their share of commodity foods for their school districts, like ours, to purchase. All USDA foods must be produced in the U.S. Did you know that USDA purchases some foods to help stabilize the market for farmers? For example, if farmers had a bumper crop of apples, there would be a surplus and too many pounds on the market. This causes prices that farmers would receive to fall. To help keep the market stable, USDA would make large purchases of surplus apples for schools in order to keep the surplus off the market so that farmers would not have to drop their prices. The Department of Defense is also involved with some of our commodity foods. After World War II, the Department of Defense realized that so many of our troops were malnourished that they worried it would become a national threat. To this day they continue to administer the Fresh Fruit and Vegetable program to ensure nutritious foods are provided to child nutrition programs. I continue to find it fascinating and awe-inspiring that the foods we purchase and menu not only impact the health of our students, but assist farmers and the military!

Happy Spring Break!

Please be good to yourself and enjoy this well deserved time off. Thank you for everything you continue to do, no matter what, to feed and nourish our students.
Big picture