My final blog entryPosted by Jen Dabal at 2/25/2017
Well, the only constant in life is change and boy, has change ever come to our program.
It is with bittersweet sadness that I am resigning my position as NPS Food Service Manager. I will be starting a new job with Sysco Corporation beginning next week and am very excited about the new challenge.
Working at NPS and building such an amazing meal program for this school and community, has been one of the most rewarding experiences I've ever had. The kid's smiling faces and funny comments have been a joy. My crews throughout the year have all been great and taught me many life lessons and I wouldn't trade it all for anything.
Thank you to all that have been so supportive through the years including the board members, administrators, staff, kids, family members and kitchen crews!
Please continue to support the amazing ladies that keep this program going and feel the pride in our school.
Best wishes to all,
Up and running again!Posted by Jen Dabal at 8/29/2016 12:00:00 PM
Well, summer is over and we are back at it again... prepping, preparing and serving hungry kids and staff. I always hear from the staff that work throught the summer how happy they are to have our kitchen up and going again instead of having to bring something from home. One of the perks of having a fresh salad bar everyday!
We are once again providing a FREE breakfast to our PreK through 8th grade students in the morning! These meals are brought right to their classrooms in the elementary and we offer a grab and go cart for our middle and high school students. Middle school is served first thing in the morning and the high school cart is offered right after first hour in the hallway with an extended passing period. This has been a huge success, as proven by the number of secondary students now eating breakfast. Years ago we served on average, around 9 high school kids daily in the cafeteria. Since starting the later grab and go option in the high school hallway, we now serve around 45-50 kids daily. Morning behavior referrals are down and all kids have the opportunity to start the day out right with healthy, delicious options to fuel their bodies and brains.
There is always a little confusion as to what is required during our meal service to make a "reimbursable meal". I am providing a link from the CDE (Colorado Department of Education) nutrition unit that explains thing in a bit more detail. https://www.cde.state.co.us/nutrition/osnoffervsservefactsheet
Being a participant in the NSLP (National School Lunch Program) entitles us to federal funding for our school lunch and breakfast programs. For each meal served, we receive a reimbursement from the federal governement. In order to receive this reimbursement, each child must choose the required number of components for each meal.
Basically there are five components to our lunch meal and at least three must be chosen to make a reimbursable meal. One of these components MUST be a fruit and/or vegetable. If the required components are not chosen then the meal is not considered a "reimbursable meal" and must be charged by individual items on an a la carte basis. This could mean more $ for your lunch bill and that our school receives no reimbursement amount for that meal.
If ever you have questions regarding your school lunch bill or any questions about our meal program, please contact either Sheila Henderson or Jen Dabal at Norwood Public School
My O My, how the time does fly!Posted by Jen Dabal at 4/17/2016 6:30:00 PM
Where O where has the school year gone?
Can't believe it's been since November that I've posted, but I will do my best to fill you in on everything we've been up to!
We held our annual Bring Your Family to Lunch Day back at the end of November which has become one of the PTA's most popular events. It has also become the busiest day of the year for our crew! We served close to 300 lunches that day and our lunchroom was transformed into a warm, inviting, family-friendly venue thanks to the efforts of our elementary students. Check it out...
December was a short month due to our winter break. And a nice break it was for all!
January through February are made up of short weeks for us due to holidays, cabin fever days and collaborative work days. Due to this and the sports schedules, we took a small hiatus from our high school lunch cart. We did kick it off again after Spring Break and the students that take advantage of this option seem to like having a choice other than hot lunch in the cafeteria.
Our high school breakfast cart, however, has become one of our biggest success stories!
How it works is... we load up goodies on our awesome vending cart (acquired from the fundraising efforts of our kitchen crew, a matching Just for Kids grant, and some monetary assistance from our ever-helpful PTA), and head on down to the high school hallway at the end of 1st hour. Our administrators were willing to make some adjustments to the daily bell schedule to extend this passing time between first and second hour to 7 minutes instead of the usual 3. This allows our kids to get into line and grab some delicious, healthy options for a late breakfast to help get them through the morning. This not only fuels their brains, but seems to be helping out with keeping kids and staff happier as well. According to data being collected, morning office referrals are down by 60%! :) We'll take it!
Daily offerings include all required components of the National School Breakfast program: 1-2 whole grain options such as homemade banana bread, breakfast cookies, cereal bowls or bars, homemade granola, etc, 1 meat/meat alternate option such as yogurt or string cheese, 1 fruit option that always includes fresh fruit and/or 100% juice, and finally 1 milk option.
We have wrapped up the last of our Livewell @ School Food Initiative program and couldn't be more thankful for the opportunity to have participated. The on-site trainings and chef visits were so incredibly valuable to our program. The last visits happend in March and entailed the chefs getting face to face with students in the lunchroom and elsewhere around the school to teach them the difference between fresh, from scratch foods (like we make everyday at school) and processed foods that have been so predominate in our culture for generations now.
Elementary kids saw what goes into our homemade mac & cheese and compared it to a microwavable version commonly seen on store shelves. The reactions stirred up quite a bit of wonder and some humorous comments from students. Now, we know that it's not always possible to make from scratch meals at home each night, but our objective is to educate the kiddos on what the difference is and why we are committed to offering those scratch made options at school daily.
The following day was a chance for our chefs to help us introduce a new menu option and sample it out to our patrons. the surprise ingredient...Peas! Spring Pea Guacamole ( and yes, it is delicious! ) It was so well received that it has become a regular menu item on our salad bar on Wednesdays :)
The little ones weren't the only one to be schooled by our chef friends... the secondary school also got a lesson in sugar and how much those little calorie counts can add up over time;)
They also got to give a little input in the form of a survey about our school meal program. Overall, the feedback was positive!
We got some answers about their most and least favorite menu options and we have listened! We have adjusted our menu for the remainder of the year to include favorites like pizza and sandwiches more often and, at the request of our administration, are planning some grab and go picnic lunches as well as the weather becomes nicer :)
Reimbursable meal options are available for field trips and sports trips as well. Just let your child's teacher know a couple of days in advance, and we can have a sack lunch ready to go on field trip day! Meals will be charged just the same as any regular lunch day.
Another benefit to our Livewell @ School Food Initiative program was some operational consulting and assistance from the fine folks at Lunch Lessons, LLC. Nancy Howatt and Beth Collins were able to come into our school and observe daily operations and management. Nancy provided us with some helpful tracking tools and advice and Beth wrote a summary of where our strength and weaknesses were from an operational standpoint.
We have taken this advice to task and have recently applied for and received a USDA equipment grant in the amount of over $26,000! We will be using these funds to acquire and install a new walk-in freezer outside of our current kitchen and will convert the old freezer into more refrigerator space to more efficiently prep, cool and store fresh food for our incredible meal program.
We are very excited and want to shout out our thanks again to Livewell Colorado for providing us with these invaluable resources!
Whew! Well, I think that's everything :) I'll try to keep updating on a more regular basis.
International Exchange DayPosted by Jen Dabal at 11/19/2015
Our exchange students held a cultural exchange earlier this month with the entire Norwood School population which included slide shows of their home countries, fun toys (specifically Indonesian), cultural items, and the best part... home-cooked culinary fare made right in NPS' school kitchen.
Livewell chef Jessica Wright helped the kids prepare some amazingly delicious foods from their home countries including gazpacho and spanish "tortillas" , tiramisu, and a scrumptious thai soup.
Check it out...
Transition into AutumnPosted by Jen Dabal at 10/7/2015 10:00:00 PM
Well, the seasons are finally starting to transition and with that comes shorter days, cooler weather and the only constant in life...change!
We have had some struggles in our routine with some injuries (unfortunately, par for the course in such a physically demanding job) but have been blessed with offerings of help from some wonderful folks...Carolyn Welsh, recently retired, or so she thought :), as well as Sheila Henderson who wears many hats, but always loves jumping into the kitchen enthusiastically with a great attitude and tons of energy! You're the best Sheila;)
We have also been blessed to be a part of Livewell Colorado's School Food Initiative and have recently hosted Chef Jessica to help us out with on-site training with our kitchen crew. What is the School Food Initiative you may ask? it's an amazing program that provides assistance in SO many ways to Colorado's participating school districts, of which we are one to benefit!
Because of our attendance at Livewell Colorado's Culinary Boot Camp back in 2010 & 2011, we were invited to participate once again as an alumni district. What this means for us is a very unique opportunity to enhance our program with several workshops including in depth training in the kitchen with professional chefs, on-site training with the chefs in our very own kitchen, in-depth fiscal, managerial and operational consultation to fine tune daily operations and provide tools to help us succeed in our programming. In addition to all of that, we have been awarded grant funding from the Colorado Health Foundation to update equipment for better efficiency in the kitchen. All in all, this program has provided our district with professional training, equipment and intrinsic value of over $144,000! Thank you Livewell Colorado and your sponsors for this amazing opportunity!
I will be attending the sustainability workshop on October 12 in Copper Mountain to move into the final phase of our program with Livewell and look forward to sharing what I've learned with our crew :) For more information visit their website...www.livewellcolorado.org/healthy-schools/food-initiative.
We will have more on-site Chef visits coming up in the very new future and invite everyone to come and visit and share in our amazing meal program with your kids and community. Our daily lunch service begins at 11 AM (except for early release days 10:40 AM) Our middle and high school service starts at 11:35 daily and concludes at 12:20 . FYI: We can always pack up orders to go for takeout!... Give us a call ahead of time at 327-4336 ext. 210.
Settling inPosted by Jen Dabal at 9/7/2015 4:00:00 PM
So, we are finally settling into a new routine in our program. Had a turnover of one crew member, something which is always a challenge...to retain quality employees with limited full time positions. We had Molly Harris join us this year and she is proving to be a great asset to our team!
Our team consists of myself, Jen Dabal (5 years), Leslie Stropko (2nd year + lots of subbing over the years), Sharon Newport (2nd year in + sub time also) and Molly Harris (new hire). We also rely on our fabulous friend and sub extraordinaire, Michele Blunt, who does an amazing job for us, but keeps herself so busy with her other volunteerism (foreign student exchange program, PTA, food bank, etc., etc.) that we're lucky if we can catch her when we have a need.
If anyone out there has an interest in seeing what we do up close or is interested in subbing for us at any time, we would love to have you! Come talk to Jen or Sheila Henderson in the office and we can see if we'd make a good fit. The busy days go by fast and the kids are a hoot to work with! Overall, a very rewarding way to spend your day :)
We kicked off our high school grab & go lunch cart last week in the High School hallway at lunchtime. This is simply another option for our high school students to grab a reimbursable homemade lunch if they decide not to join us in the cafeteria for that day's hot meal offering. We have prepackaged salads, sandwiches and/or entrees as well as a la carte options that meet all federal USDA guidelines for competitive foods in schools. "Competitive foods" are any foods offered for sale on school grounds during the regular school day that would compete with regular school meal service. We offer cash payment options as well as school meal charge accounts managed by Sheila Henderson, school food service director. We currently do not allow charge account balances to exceed $20 per family, so if you do not want your high school student to charge a la carte items, please let us know.
We are constantly striving to bring healthy, delicious options to your children and to create a positive environment in which to enjoy it. Please let us know if you have concerns regarding our school meal programs at any time. My contact e-mail is : email@example.com
A Grab & Go Lunch Option for High School Kids; Chicken Taco Salad with homemade dressing
Kickin' it off!Posted by Jen Dabal at 8/26/2015 3:40:00 PMIn a website training...lots to learn!Excited for a great school year. Our menu for August and September should be visible on the menu page. You should be able to print the menu right from the page if you'd like.We are committed to serving your kids fresh, healthy, made-from-scratch food and creating a pleasant environment for them to eat. If you have any questions, comments or ideas, please don't hesitate to share :)