Friday Focus

October 29, 2021


Message from the Director

This week I stopped by an antique book store and found a treasure trove of Wizard of Oz collectibles. I've loved that movie from a young age and so does my daughter. Glinda the Good Witch told Dorothy, "You've had the power all along," and it reminds me that we, too, have been going down our own yellow brick road searching for something to make this year work. What is remarkable is that just when everything seemed impossible and flying monkeys were everywhere, you made it work. You did have the power all along! Your exceptional heart and courage are incredible, second to none. Take a minute and think about all you've accomplished. In just 52 days you served 217,846 lunches and 60,330 breakfasts - that's 278,176 reimbursable meals! Think about how many of those meals were eaten by a truly hungry child. Don't forget that almost one in three Valpo students are eligible for free and reduced price meals which reminds us that poverty is real here. To those students especially, you are the "Wizard" providing them with the nutritious food they need to thrive and learn. No work is more noble than this, thank you!

With gratitude,


You've always Had the Power my Dear - Glinda (Wizard of Oz)


I'm sure that everyone can agree that staying organized is a huge key to a successful kitchen. Every day I set aside time to work on inventory needs as well as organizational skills in general. I make sure I have the next menu cycle printed out so at the end of the day I can complete my forecast for the next week we have that menu. With all the changes to the menu, It's important to stay on top of things. I find that by making sure I am organized it makes things a little easier for me to implement fun and exciting promotions. They don't have to be extravagant. Just decorating your kitchen and handing out a sticker or a little trinket makes these kids' day a little brighter and gets them excited to come in for lunch. For me, being mindful of upcoming holidays and school related activities keeps promotion ideas flowing. Providing an enjoyable lunch experience from kitchen to cafeteria is a way to encourage students to participate. Adding extra fun and cheer to a stressful situation can change everyone's mood and to me it makes staying organized and on top of things that much easier. Don't forget to lean on your team and try to make our current situation the best it can be.

It's the Great Pumpkin, Central Elementary!

Central is celebrating the Great Pumpkin for Halloween. Students can guess how many pumpkins are in the jar and winners from each grade receive their own decorated mini pumpkin. Shannon and Rachel gave the menu items frightening names and decorated the serving area. Taking the promotion a step farther, they took the jar of pumpkins and did a math lesson for 5th graders. Rachel demonstrated how we count by using weight as a measure. Students learned to weigh the jar full of pumpkins using our digital scale, weigh a single pumpkin and use math to determine how many are in the jar. What a perfect way to link the cafeteria and classroom. Students are loving this, thank you!
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Administrative Review PREP: Required Signage

The Indiana Department of Education will be conducting a comprehensive review of our program this year. They will select a sample of schools to inspect. To help everyone be ready, we will devote a portion of Friday Focus to "Review Prep" reminders. I'm confident that everyone will pass with flying colors!

Federal regulations require each cafeteria to display specific signage. Be sure you have the appropriate signage displayed. If you need new signage or frames, just ask.

**What Makes a Meal signage must be displayed at the beginning of the serving line for schools using "offer vs. serve." There is one sign for lunch and one for breakfast. Each school has plastic standing frames to display these signs in. The signs are a visual way to communicate choices and help students understand how to "build" a reimbursable meal.

**The most recent health dept. inspection report must be posted for the public to see in the cafeteria area. Each school has a frame on the wall to put the report in.

***The large size "And Justice for All" poster must be displayed in serving areas for the public to see at all schools, including private schools participating in NSLP.

"Anytimers" Pilot

Starting this week, Central, Cooks, Memorial and TJE are piloting Anytimers prepacked Turkey, Cheese and Cracker kits (similar to "Lunchables"). These items come in frozen and are easy to thaw and serve, no prep time like pizza packs. We will try them on Green Wednesday, up against French Toast and Sausage and also on Blue Tuesday, up against Soft Tacos. On these days, only Anytimers will be available, not pizza packs, along with the regular hot entree. It will be interesting to see what students choose and how not having to make pizza packs affects production.
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Welcome, Amber Shaw!

Please join me in welcoming Amber Shaw as the new FS Manager for VHS Satellite. She brings with her several years of leadership experience and has almost a decade of experience in school food service. Amber will begin training next week. Shout out to Kathryn who has held down the Satellite fort all these months. She has improved the preparation, storage and delivery processes and created much needed efficiency in this growing operation. Kathryn will work with Amber to ensure a smooth transition.
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Want to work some extra hours for extra cash? Kathryn is scheduling those willing to work an extra hour or two to do prep work for schools seriously understaffed. Please let her know if you able to work. We appreciate any and all help and can be very flexible to accommodate you.


Any permanent employee (including substitutes) interested in any of these positions can apply by emailing a brief letter of interest to Kathy Kane, Director at

Non-employees can apply by completing an online application as an External Applicant here:

FS Tech, VHS, 6 hours

FS Tech, VHS, 4 hours

FS Tech, Cooks Corners, 3.5 hours

FS Tech, Cooks Corners, 5.5 hours

FS Tech, Parkview, 4.5 hours

FS Tech, Memorial, 3.5 hours

FS Tech, BF, 5 hours

FS Tech, BF, 5 hours

FS Tech, TJM, 4 hours

FS Tech, Flint Lake, 4 hours

FS Tech, Heavilin, 4 hours

2021-22 Calendar

October 21-22, 2021 1/2 Days, K-8 (Regular Work Days)

November 2, 2021 eLearning Day (Regular Work Day)

November 7; 2021. Daylight Savings ends, turn back clocks 1 hour

November 24-26, 2021 No School Thanksgiving Break (No Work Days)

December 16, 2021 1/2 Day K-12 (Regular Work Day)

Did you miss an issue of Friday Focus?

Past issues of Friday Focus are posted on our department website on the Staff Training page here:

About Us

Our mission is to support academic and lifelong success by nourishing students and building healthy eating habits.