Don’t forget to ask your account representative about ApplyNOW, Powered by PayPAMS, where parents can fill out Free and Reduced applications online.
Dov Abramson, our Director of Operations for PayPAMS, says that, “early this Spring we will have a new PayPAMS web site with modern design and responsive features, that automatically adjust from desktop to tablet to phone, will go live. The new web site will be implemented in two stages with the parent portal coming first, followed later this Summer with the administrator’s section of the site.”
Director, Child Nutrition
Pampa Independent School District
PCS Products Used: TrakNOW, PayPAMS, POS
Number of Schools: 6
PCS customer since: 1994
Texas is a state that is passionate about its sports teams, professional, college and high school, whether it is the Cowboys, Rangers or Astros, or the Pampa High Harvesters. Back in 2006, the Pampa High School football team was featured on Dateline NBC. The story depicts how “Every Friday night, small town America shows its spirit on fields like Harvester. This is a story about football – intensely and passionately played. But it is also a story of family, friendship and faith.” It is that Harvester Spirit which pervades the cafeteria and food service staff of Pampa ISD as well, led by Food Service Director, Debbie Middleton.
Pampa is comprised of 6 schools with an enrollment of around 4,000 students and is located in Gray County and parts of Roberts County. For over 25 years the students and staff are fortunate to have such a loving and kind leader who takes a personal interest in everyone she works with. Becki Rogers, PCS’ Regional Sales Director has worked closely with Debbie for 5 years and appreciates the warm, personal connection that Debbie extends to everyone she works with. Becki said, “Debbie is always there to lend a helping hand, gives you her honest opinion, and is as concerned with helping others grow and improve as she is with getting things done efficiently.”
Betty Zimmerman, a TrakNOW Senior Implementation Specialist, says, “Debbie is one of the sweetest ladies I’ve ever met. She’s dedicated to her employees and wants to make sure that they are equipped to handle everything in the most efficient way.” Betty cites Pampa’s warehouse complex, which is the central depot for all receiving and distribution of food service shipments, saying, “It’s a big job and she makes sure that her entire team operates it smoothly.”
Assisting Debbie every step of the way and an instrumental part to her success is CN Assistant, Rebel Fulton. Debbie praises Rebel and her staff, “I have a wonderful group of people who are part of this” she says. Debbie, to her credit, continues to grow and cultivate her relationships. A customer of PCS for over 20 years, Betty attests that “She goes to every show and every user group and makes it a point to stop by our booth to see our reps and give them a hug”. Just like in the picture, above!
Congratulations to Debbie, Rebel and the entire Pampa ISD team on being our Customer of the Month!
Miami-Dade County Department of Food and Nutrition is providing a new service via a food truck. The theme is “Eating Healthy Every Day” with a special menu only served on the food truck, like wraps, veggie burgers, fajita tacos, turkey burgers, Asian chicken wraps, meatball on hoagie, fresh fruit, juice and milk.
The food truck visits selected schools, rotating locations on a daily basis. A choice of two or three reimbursable meal offerings is provided, changing when the truck returns to the same school. Payment is “cashless”, via accessing the student’s account balance on their FASTrak NetPOS tablet with a NED or FRED keypad attached.
Olga Botero, Executive Director of Food and Nutrition at Miami-Dade, said, “the wireless connectivity at the schools was not consistent and the OFF-LINE mode on a daily basis is not a convenient option for our staff.” So Tony Diers, our Director of Operations, suggested to Olga that a MIFI device connected to the school via the VPN could be the answer, and it works like a charm. When there is no signal, OFF-LINE mode is still there as a back up.
When asked about the future of the Eating Healthy Every Day program, Olga said that, “the food truck is very well received in the schools and may be expanded in the future. It is popular with the students and the administration.”
Registered Dietitian Nutritionist Day was March 11, and in honor of this day and National Nutrition Month, we are featuring Donna Martino Fuhrman as Employee of the Month! As a Registered Dietitian Nutritionist, Donna applies her special knowledge and skills everyday as Project Manager for TrakNOW, our Nutrition and Inventory software, and as PCS’ liaison with USDA Food and Nutrition Service.
Donna has been with PCS for over 6 years and previously worked as a supervisor at Cherry Creek School District, a long time PCS customer. In 2009 Donna moved to New York City, and began her new career in software development. Donna received her Master’s Degree from Colorado State University in Human Nutrition.
Software development at PCS is partly a science involving creating the logic that embodies the complex business rules of school food and nutrition and partly the art of creating a user experience hiding this complexity behind simple and easy to use screens and reports.
This is the challenge that Donna is faced with as each year she receives an update from USDA Food and Nutrition Service with new requirements for the “approved” software. She must interpret these requirements within the TrakNOW framework in order to incorporate the new or modified regulations, compliance requirements, and “guidance”. Not an easy task!
Donna works closely with her counterparts at USDA to make sure that every function and report provides the results that are intended in the USDA requirements and specifications. Often this can be a matter of interpretation, and the process of updating approved software can require a lot of interaction with USDA. At the end of the day, Donna and her TrakNOW team of specialists, test the updated software for on-time release to customers each June or July.
When asked about the PCS approach, Donna said:
“We endeavor to make the software as user friendly as possible while at the same time providing options to match each customer’s needs. For example, we worked very hard designing our USDA approved food based compliance reports to look very similar to the USDA certification worksheets, so that our customers and state reviewers would feel very comfortable with it during the 6 Cent Certification and Administrative Reviews processes. Our new multi-browser platform which will support Internet Explorer 11, Chrome and Safari on an upgraded SQL 2014 server. Our annual Child Nutrition Database update will be released shortly after the multi-browser version. And we plan to have at least one more release this year, with more improvements and new features.”
National Nutrition Month, National School Breakfast Week, and Registered Dietitian Nutritionist Day all fall in the month of March. LAC, SNA’s Legislative Action Conference, also in March, featured an annual March to the Hill (no pun intended), to engage our elected officials in the priorities for school food and nutrition. Donna Martino Fuhrman and Gabe Aiello attended several sessions and were happy to see so many PCS customers. Gabe is on the Procurement Task Force of the Industry Advisory Board for SNA which met during LAC. Three of the Industry Sessions involved food procurement issues and procurement is a topic that’s really heating up.
PCS User Group meetings will be starting in April. As of now, Texas, Minnesota, California and Washington will be in April and Florida and Georgia/South Carolina will be in May. Locations and agendas are currently being finalized. Surveys will be sent along with the registration e-mails, so to better your user group experience, please take the time to fill them out.
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