Friday Focus

December 3, 2021


Message from the Director

Holiday season is here and I have to say that I actually look forward to drinking my morning coffee at 5:00 am next to the warm lighting of the Christmas tree. Despite the many challenges and frustrations outside my living room, I take comfort in the happy memories that took place by that tree. At work, where so many things are complicated, it is still nice to know that the happiness of the holidays can connect us all. No matter what you celebrate, I hope you enjoy the experience of giving whether it's by sharing a smile, lending a hand or other acts of kindness. Writer Mary Anne Radmacher said, "As we work to create light for others, we naturally light our own way." Did you know research shows that giving creates a happier mood, a greater sense of wellbeing, lower stress levels, lower blood pressure, and even helps you live longer? I feel like we could all use a dose of these right about now. Don't forget that making meals special for your students is a wonderful form of giving and truly loved by students. Take a look at how Cafe Manager Amber Cruz partnered with the Cooks Corners PTO to make the Thanksgiving Brunch a very special event.

With gratitude,



Hello everyone, I'm Amber Shaw, the new Satellite FS Manager. I want to share some thoughts with you. Being new to a group can be difficult at times. I have been welcomed here like no other place! I'm finding there is a great group of people here in the high school and I'm sure at all the other schools, too. Staying organized here is coming together pretty easily for me. I appreciate the communication I receive from everyone, it makes this process a delight. I like to have a timeline so I know what needs to be done and by what time. I try to focus on what is important like keeping food at the correct temperature and sending it out without losing temperature. I take pride in what I do. This is probably the nicest surprise I could have asked for at this point in my life. Thank you for welcoming me into this wonderful team you have here at Valpo.

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Share Your Recipes!

Who better than YOU, a culinary expert, to share holiday recipes? Please think about completing the form below with a favorite recipe and I will put them together in a cookbook to share. I know my Grandma was not a fan of sharing her cooking secrets, but her cheesecake is so good that I have to.

Congratulations, Ashley!

Interviews were conducted this week and I am pleased to announce that Ashley Bowman has been selected as the new Operations Coordinator. Ashley began her career in School Nutrition as a Substitute, became a FS Tech, was promoted to Cafe Manager at Memorial and most recently became the department’s Office Clerk. She has a well rounded knowledge of all aspects of our operation and is looking forward to spending time in the field supporting you. She is pursuing a degree in Business Administration at Ivy Tech. Through hard work and determination, Ashley has successfully taken advantage of the career opportunities available in School Nutrition.
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Thank You Substitutes!

This year, we have relied on Substitute employees more than ever to keep our operation going. We are most grateful for them! To show our appreciation, effective November 20, the pay rate for Substitute employees increased to $10.50 per Hour. You are valuable members of our team and we would be lost without you!


Administrative Review: February 28 - March 4, 2022

IDOE has selected Cooks Corners, Central Elementary and Ben Franklin Middle School for the Administrative Review. Michael Downey is our IDOE consultant and he will be on site the week of February 28, 2022 to conduct the review. He will be reviewing all production records (Breakfast and Lunch) from the month of January 2022 for those schools. He will also be reviewing our department records for purchasing, bidding, free and reduced price meal application processing, menu compliance and more. This can really be an opportunity for us to shine!

Go Blue!

The University of Michigan (my alma mater) plays Iowa on Saturday night for the Big 10 Football Championship. Listen to the greatest fight song on earth to help get you in the mood.
University of Michigan Fight Song
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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, 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, TJM, 4 hours

FS Tech, Flint Lake, 4 hours

FS Tech, Heavilin, 4 hours

FS Tech, Heavilin, 4 hours

2021-22 Calendar

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

December 17, 2021 No School (No Work Day unless used as Weather Make Up Day)

December 20-31, 2021 No School, Holiday Break (No Work Days)

January 3, 2022 School Resumes (Regular Work Day)

January 17, 2022 No School, MLK Day (No Work Day)

February 18, 2022 No School (No Work Day unless used as Weather Make Up Day)

February 21, 2022 No School, Presidents' Day (No Work Days)

March 21-25, 2022 No School, Spring Break (No Work Days)

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.