Friday Focus

March 17, 2023


message from the director

Today is St. Patrick's Day, a time when many people are Irish for at least a few hours. Food is always the central part of any celebration and one traditional, easy to make recipe that is sure to impress is authentic Irish Soda Bread. It takes just a handful of ingredients and instructions from County Cork's Ballymaloe Cookery School in the video below with no kneading or rising. Even though the Irish don't raise their breads, they do raise their glasses with the toast, "Slàinte Mhaith (pronounced Slanj-a-va), which translates to "good health." Food and health are inextricably linked in all cultures. When you expose and encourage children to try new foods as part of your promotions, you are teaching and making a big impact. Remember, for many students, lunch is the central part of their day.

With gratitude,


Traditional Irish Soda Bread with Darina Allen

Use the right pan for the job

Be sure you are forecasting accurately, especially sides and condiments. Prepare only what you need and use the correct size pan. Too often, full pans are filled with much more product than needed. Save time counting and lifting; work smarter not harder.
Big picture

Field Trips 101

A sure sign of spring is a flurry of field trips. Take the time to ask your principal to remind their staff how important it is to have 7-10 days notice, especially since the supply chain is still unreliable. Be sure everone knows where to locate the current Field Trip Order Form ('s here: A reminder from from the Indiana Department of Education (IDOE) is below. The best practice is to have students pick up their meal in the cafeteria where you can use the point of sale to ring them up. If you pack lunches in bulk, the teacher must sign, date and turn in a check off sheet with the names of students that received a meal. The School Nutrition Association released a great resource with ideas to help make field trip days a success:

IDOE Field Trip Meals

Meal Pattern
Meals sent on field trips must meet the meal pattern requirements. Each component, including milk, must be provided in the daily minimum serving size. Field trip meals must be documented on the daily production record.

Meal Counting and Claiming
Meals must be counted at the point of service. Students can go through the line before the regular meal service time to pick up their meal and be counted. If students do not pick up the meal before leaving, complete meals must be sent and a meal count sheet must be completed by field trip staff.

  • Field trip staff counting meals should be trained on correct meal count procedures including civil rights.
  • If not operating Offer versus Serve (OVS), all components must be taken before the meal is counted for reimbursement.

VHS dish machine obituary

A huge shout out and thanks to Joyce Crowe and the entire VHS staff for helping in the dishroom as they struggle through washing everything by hand. We had hoped the old Hobart unit, installed in 1993, would last until the bid process was complete, but it didn't. Joyce Crowe was here when it arrived over 30 years ago. There is no doubt in my mind that the reason this equipment lasted for three decades is due to the expert job she's done cleaning, maintaining and deliming it with precision. I never realized how much there is to know about the technology of new dish machines. Ashley and I researched three major brands and after a site visit to LaPorte, decided on the Meiko model. One reason for the decision is its availability for a quick install. One unit just arrived by boat to the port of Charleston, SC and will be on its way to Nashville next week. I'm working to secure it. Although this is a very expensive purchase, $200,000 with installation, it is a good investment and built to perform...even with Valpo water.
MEIKO the strong Brand

Transition to Teaching

Do you or someone you know already have a Bachelor's degree and interested in a career change? Valparaiso University is offering a fast track to licensure in their transition to teaching (T2T) program. Programs are available for Early Childhood, K-12 and Special Education. Details are below or visit

Agriculture News

From Magnetic Ag:

In 2022, eighteen severe climate disasters exacted a toll with economic losses estimated at $165 billion (see map below). Additional losses of crop and rangeland from natural disasters including drought, floods, hail, hurricanes, tornados, wildfires and winter storms were more than $21 billion and more than half of that wasn’t covered through Risk Management Agency programs (crop insurance). The sad part is these estimates from American Farm Bureau Federation don’t even include infrastructure damage, loss of livestock, horticulture, or timber losses.

Big picture

Salinas Valley Flood Update

The Salinas Valley in California produces 80% of the nation's vegetable supply April through July. The Salinas River levees were breached and the Pajaro River levee failed causing major flooding. Delayed plantings and crops lost to flooding will ultimately lead to product shortages and high prices in the spring and into the summer months. Take a look at the video from the area last weekend.
Live From The Fields: Widespread Flooding in the Salinas Valley

digital resources


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, TJM, 4 hours

FS Tech, SELF, 5.5 hours

FS Tech, VHS, 6 hours

FS Tech, Flint Lake, 4 hours

2022-23 Calendar

March 27-31, 2023 - Spring Break, No School (No Work)

April 7, 2023 - Half Day K-12 (Regular Work Day)

April 10, 2023 - No School (No Work Day unless used as Weather Make Up Day)

May 25, 2023 - Half Day K-12 (Regular Work Day), Last Day of School

May 26, 2023 - Regular Work Day, Close Kitchens

May 30, 2023 - Summer School Begins

Check out myschoolmenus!

You can also download the free myschoolmenus app!

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.

This institution is an equal opportunity provider.