This year got off to a great start with Judi Dugan and Gabe Aiello attending the SNIC (School Nutrition Industry Conference) in Phoenix, AZ. As always the conference was both inspirational and informative. There was also plenty of time to network with customers, old friends, and new acquaintances. Kate Cole, president, Cinnabon Inc., was one of many dynamic speakers and provided several examples of how to create and capitalize on small “wins” and how to get the word out to others in order to accomplish larger goals.
In breakout sessions, directors from several districts shared their successes. Each had their own personal story about how they implemented a variety of creative ideas; from planting gardens with students and finding how easy it was to get them to taste and eat their harvests, turning fruits and vegetables into smoothies to get middle school kids to try them out, to reaching out into the community to provide salad bars donated by funds raised in area restaurants. These are just a few of the great ideas that were shared.
See some success stories from our Customer of the Month, Patty Page, Director of Nutrition Services at Manteca USD. Patty was recently named Director of the Year by CASNA.
Director of Nutrition Services
Manteca Unified School District, CA
Patty has been using PCS products in Manteca since the fall of 2011 and is currently using RIGHTrak, FASTrak, NetPOS, Rocketscan F&R integration, and PayPAMS. She is now implementing PCS’ TrakNOW Nutrition and Inventory, which will be rolled out to all school cafeterias this year.
With Patty at the helm, Manteca USD is one of only 24 districts in California to achieve honors in the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Healthier US School Challenge, with 30 schools in the district earning either silver or bronze awards. The program’s goals are to foster good health among schoolchildren through nutrition and physical exercise, activity and education.
Patty has taken the concept of “Farm to School” to a whole new level. Just outside her office window, the school district’s farm provides a place for students to cultivate and harvest fresh produce for sale to the nutrition program. Farm fresh specialties include everything from pumpkins to baby bok choy, herbs, potatoes, spinach and every kind of lettuce. On top of that, parents and staff can also buy freshly harvested vegetables, boxed weekly. This subscription services is called “Veggie Express”.
Stats: A year-round operation for the 23,000-students, Nutrition Services prepared just shy of 5 million meals in the 12 months ending June 30, a little more than half of which were school lunches. The remaining meals included 1.7 million breakfasts, 210,000 snacks, 93,000 summer meals and, starting in January, just over 12,000 suppers.
PCS: So what’s new and what’s next?
Patty: We just recently hired a farm-to-school supervisor and are getting ready to plant produce in the next month. We will still have to subsidize our produce with purchased produce, but a lot of it will be coming from our school garden. We will hire “ag” students to help harvest it. What they harvest on Monday will be in the garden bar on Tuesday. You can’t get more “farm to fork” than that! The farm will provide spinach and lettuce, bok choy, different types of peppers, watermelons, and squash. We also have a greenhouse so we can start growing herbs for seasoning.
PCS: Talk to us about your famous “Garden Bars”!
Patty: We really work hard on providing healthy choices that the children enjoy. One of our big things is our garden bars. We don’t just offer the children things like apples, bananas, pears, and oranges. They get things like jicama sticks, blueberries, strawberries, white peaches, spinach and romaine. Next year we’ll start offering a kale salad with diced apples and pears. Plus we are going to do some different spinach salads and a faro salad.
PCS: How has PCS made a difference for you at Manteca?
Patty: Support is the biggest contributing factor, in particular their responsiveness and attention to detail. Whenever there is an issue, I can count on it being remedied effectively and efficiently, which is appreciated by our IT staff, as well.
We at PCS are proud of Patty, her staff, and her wonderfully creative programs. We appreciate having Manteca USD as a customer!
Check out the article from Who’s Cooking School Lunch? featuring Patty Page!
I’ve used PCS for over 25 years and have consistently found that whenever I needed assistance, the response from support was very quick and on target to resolve any issues. The company has made it their business to put their customers’ needs first, rather than just trying to sell their “latest and greatest” to make a buck. Everyone, from the company General Manager, David Yaniv, to the support techs (too numerous to name), make their best efforts to be available when we need them and are patient with us “non-techies!”
I honestly believe that the main reason for our district’s successes in surviving audits can be attributable to the unfailing quality of PCS products and the service provided by the people representing the company.This certainly adds to our ability to provide rapid service to our students through quick serving lines and virtually seamless data integration with our central office and systems.
Thanks for the opportunity to say, “Well done, folks!!”
Michelle Perkins, SNS – Okeechobee County School District, FL
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