Friday Focus

August 13, 2021


So here we are, Friday the 13th, stepping into a challenging 2021-22 school year. This marks my 30th year in school food service and believe it or not, I still love what I do. I know that I am fortunate enough to have the ability to make a difference each and every day in the life of a child, even if it's just sharing a smile. I try not to waste that gift. We are all lucky in that respect. Author Mandy Hale said, "To make a difference in someone's life, you don't have to be brilliant, rich, beautiful or perfect. You just have to care." Covid has made us all a little more fragile and I know that I have missed seeing smiles behind the mask and feeling a connection with people. Make this the year that you focus on building relationships with your students, they have missed you! Take a few minutes to watch the short video below to see how easily we can make wrong assumptions and judgements without taking the time to get to know someone. Relationships matter.

With gratitude,


DIFFERENT | Award Winning Short Film by Tahneek Rahman
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Brotherly Love in Valparaiso

This inspiring true story involves students who lived in Valparaiso! If you don't think you can make a difference, read about the transformative power of love and mentorship. "Gilbert doesn’t know what to do. He gets bad grades no matter how hard he tries. His parents aren’t around to help. His teacher says to focus on football - but Coach just suspended him! Will Gilbert’s life just keep getting worse? Hope arrives when his older brother Michael calls. Michael “gets it” – and that will make all the difference!" Written by an award-winning elementary school principal and the brother he mentored. This book is available on Amazon.

School Nutrition Association Turns 75

The School Nutrition Association (SNA) is a professional organization for school food service employees. Cafe Managers and those in our office are members. SNA is responsible for lobbying efforts that affect how Congress makes rules for our programs and ultimately, affects how we do our jobs. SNA has a wealth of information and I encourage you to visit their website and see for yourself how awesome our industry is!

This year marks the 75th anniversary of SNA. Below is a great publication with fascinating facts about the history of this brilliant organization. It always feels good to know that we're part of something bigger.

Work Days

Employees work a set number of days each year. FS Techs and Leads work 183 days. This means that they work every full student day including eLearning days and half days plus two days before the first student day and one day after the last student day. Cafe Managers work 193 days. Managers work the same number of days plus 10 more days than Techs and Leads to plan promotions, receive deliveries, etc. Federal regulation requires that each school nutrition employee meets professional standards by completing the required number of hours of training in specific topics for their position. We use eLearning and half days to conduct some of this training. Please plan ahead knowing which days you are required to work and use personal days wisely.
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Power Up Pals Story

Elementary Schools - Don't forget to promote the Power Up Pals. Think of ways to include them in promotions and decorations. The Power Up Pals are aliens who landed in our cafeterias and each one found a food source that makes them powerful. Luckily, school lunch offers all five of these "components" every day.

Back to School Workshop Presentation

We covered a lot of ground in our annual Back to School Workshop. If you want to review some of the presentations, click below.

2021-22 Calendar

September 6, 2021 Labor Day, No School (No Work Day)

September 24, 2021 1/2 Day K-12 (Regular Work Day)

October 11-12, 2021 No School, Fall Break (No Work Days)

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