Friday Focus

February 24, 2023


message from the director

In February, we celebrate Black History Month to focus attention on the many contributions of African Americans to the United States. Did you know that two of the most popular foods today were introduced to this country by African Americans? Enjoy the stories of George Crum, James Hemings and Frederick Jones and their famous creations. Speaking of stories, take a look at how one student used reading stories to make the world a better place. It is inspiring to see how the work of one person can become such a big part of our lives. I know each of you work every day to make a difference in the lives of your students. Now there's real evidence that what you're doing is lowering obesity rates and improving the health of children. Imagine knowing that future generations will have fewer health problems all because of your work.

With gratitude,


George Crum

The son of an African American father and Native American mother, George Speck, later known as George Crum, was born in Saratoga Springs, NY in 1824. While working as a chef at Saratoga Springs’ Moon Lake Lodge resort, Crum accidentally invented potato chips. When a customer sent their French fried potatoes back for being too thick and salty, Crum responded by slicing a new batch ultra-thin and frying them until they were hard and crunchy. Much to his surprise, the customer liked the chips this way and the first iteration of potato chips were born. Some accounts suggest that Crum’s sister Kate, who worked alongside him as a prep cook, was actually the one to invent potato chips. Regardless, Crum later opened a restaurant of his own—Crum’s House—which proudly featured a basket of potato chips on every table and popularized the salty snack.

The Inventor of the Potato Chip: George Crum

James Hemings

While Thomas Jefferson is sometimes credited with bringing foods like mac & cheese and ice cream to the United States, Hemings was the one who actually learned to make them. A slave in the ownership of Jefferson prior to his presidency, Hemings traveled with him to France in 1784 specifically to learn the art of French cuisine. Hemings became the first American trained as a French chef in history as a result, bringing back several dishes to the United States. French fries, ice cream, macaroni and cheese, creme brulee, French meringues, and French whipped cream are just a few examples. These dishes and others would be incorporated in Hemings' signature half-French, half-Virginian style of cooking he became renowned for. Hemings would later also cook one of the most famous dinners in American history: the one between Thomas Jefferson and Alexander Hamilton that settled who would pay for the Revolutionary War and established Washington, D.C. as the United States' capital. He eventually was freed by Jefferson in 1796.

Frederick Jones

After a challenging childhood, Frederick Jones taught himself mechanical and electrical engineering, inventing a range of devices relating to refrigeration, sound and automobiles. Portable refrigeration units developed by Jones helped the United States military carry food and blood during World War II. He founded the Thermo Control company which revolutionized the food service industry by equipping delivery trucks with cooling units.

student raises money to pay off negative cafeteria balances

Nora S. is six years old, home schooled and wanted to make a difference. She started a fundraiser and received dollar pledges for every page she read. After completing all the pages in nine chapter books, she was able to get a local business match the money she raised. Did I mention she was only six?? Nora presented us with a check for $2,000 to pay down negative cafeteria balances. Keep making a difference, Nora, the world needs you!
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Middle Schools Go Medieval

Each year the two middle schools celebrate Feudal Day as they study the feudal system of land ownership during the middle ages. Both BF and TJM served a medieval lunch worthy of royalty. No silverware allowed as they encouraged middle school students to..."Eat with your hands. It's exercise."

National School Breakfast Week

March 6 - 10 is National School Breakfast Week. Elementary schools will use the construction theme Dig into School Breakfast. Encourage students to be Breakfast Builders. Promote and decorate with resources from the School Nutrition Association. Elementary Managers will receive a toolkit to help with ideas and planning. Finalize your blueprint for this promotion and help more students succeed academically with School Breakfast.

nutrition news

Researchers from Johns Hopkins published a study in the Journal of American Medicine (JAMA) Pediatrics which concluded changes to school meals has reduced the body mass index (BMI) in students of all ages and income levels. On average, school meals account for 50% of a child's daily calorie consumption. These changes have been phased in over time as required by the Healthy Hunger Free Kids Act of 2010. Never doubt that what you do does make a difference! You're not just feeding the future, you're making them healthier. To read more on the study, click here.

culinary tips

Click the link in the box below for a quick (90 seconds) and very good video on knife types and uses from the Institute of Child Nutrition at the University of Mississippi.

Employee Discounts

Please take a minute to read the list of discounts available to employees of HPS members. HPS is our group purchasing organization. For example, you can receive discounts off Sherwin Williams paint, Avis Car Rentals, UPS and more!

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, Valparaiso High School, 6 hours *new*

FS Tech, TJM, 4 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.