SHENANDOAH COUNTY, Va. (WHSV) -- Beverly Polk, the school food services supervisor for Shenandoah County Public Schools, has been elected the District 2 Regional Director of the School Nutrition Association of Virginia (SNA-VA).
She will be installed at the state SNA-VA Conference in March and will officially begin her duties on August 1, 2014.
SNA is a national organization whose vision is “Well-Nourished Students Prepared for Success.” The Virginia affiliate of the SNA wants “to be recognized as the Voice of School Nutrition in Virginia.”
Polk will be the voice representing Region 2, which includes in addition to Shenandoah County, the cities of Harrisonburg, Staunton, and Charlottesville, and also Augusta County, Rockingham County, and other surrounding school divisions.
She will be one of eight directors, each representing one of the eight SNA-VA regions across the Commonwealth.
With the election of Polk to their executive board, SNA-VA has acquired a voice from the Shenandoah Valley of Virginia with over 50 years of experience in school food service programs.
This current school year Polk’s fifty-first year in Shenandoah County’s schools and state-level recognition is not new for her.
In the spring of 2012, SNA-VA awarded Polk a Life-Time Achievement Award for her years of devotion to child nutrition and her contributions to the healthy lives of children.
As School Food Services Supervisor, Polk is in charge of all aspects of the school nutrition program including personnel, menus, purchasing, equipment, and adherence to federal and state legislation.
She also must be certain all school cafeterias are financially sound.
"I enjoy all phases of my work, commented Polk. "And all aspects of the job are important."
Each part contributes to the success of the Food Service program, she explained..
Polk’s life-time of work in food service began in May 1965 when she began cooking at Edinburg Middle School as a way to supplement he family’s income, earning $5 a day.
Within two years, Polk had become the cafeteria manager at Edinburg Elementary School and Fort Valley.
As the years passed and Mrs. Polk’s expertise in school cafeteria management became apparent, more and more schools were placed under her administration.
In 1982, Superintendent Robert Danley asked her to take on the position of supervisor of what would become a centralized cafeteria system.
Polk accepted that offer and has been working hard, long, productive hours ever since her promotion.
“Oh, my goodness!” exclaimed Beverly Polk as she considered changes in school food service during her tenure. "One example," she noted, " is that all food service employees are now required to be SafeServ certified. The Health Department requires that only one person where food is served be certified, but we require this certification of all Food Service employees."
There are other changes as well.
Modifications in the Food Pyramid through the years impacted school menus with reductions in the amount of fats, carbohydrates, and sodium in school lunches.
“More fruits and vegetables must be served,” Mrs. Polk said. And, the USDA has replaced the food pyramid with with MyPlate.
SCPS food service has moved into the 21st century with an inventory control system and mySchoolBucks, an online pre-payment software program for parents.
And, as the years pass, more and more locally produced products such as sausage, beef, and apples have been a part of school meals as Shenandoah County increases its participation in the Farm-to-School program.
During November 2013, the county’s public school cafeterias served daily an average of 3,219 student lunches, 966 student breakfasts, and approximately 113 adult lunches.
Polk and her staff also cater ten to 12 banquets a year and provide refreshments for many other school functions.
Polk’s day generally begins at 5:00 AM, and she is on-call twenty-four hours a day, seven days a week.
She is a 1958 graduate of Edinburg High School and has completed courses at Lord Fairfax Community College and must maintain her annual certification as a School Food Services Supervisor through professional development courses.
Polk and husband Eugene, who are life-long residents of Shenandoah County, live near Edinburg and have two daughters and five grandchildren.
She is active in the Quota Club and her church, St. Luke Lutheran in Woodstock.
And, what about hobbies? How does Polk spend her spare time? She laughed when asked about hobbies.
While others might call these pursuits work, Beverly Polk considers cooking, baking, canning, and freezing foods her hobbies.
Despite the fact that her profession of 50 years has revolved around food, Beverly Polk loves culinary arts and she loves her work.
She has no plans to stop cooking and canning at home, nor does she have plans to retire.