Kathleen Kane, Valparaiso Community Schools, 2013 – 2014 Individual Member

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Passionate about nutrition, the environment and lifelong learning, Kathleen Kane is a champion of people in the food service sector whose efforts touch the lives of children every day. “Not many people associate lunch ladies with innovation,” Kathy said, with more than 23 years experience in food service management. “But food service women and men perform miracles every day feeding thousands of students in a very short window of time.” In fact, the new food director of Valparaiso Community Schools led the installation of innovative technology when she held this position at the Michigan City Area schools. She was inducted into The Society of Innovators for introducing one of Indiana’s first Styro-Genies that converts Styrofoam lunch trays into pavers at Lake Hills Elementary STEM School.  In January, a second machine was installed at the PineElementarySTEMSchool for the Visual and Performing Arts. Both machines melt disposable lunch trays into paving stones. “If you laid the number of trays we’ve recycled end to end, it would stretch over 40 miles,” Kathy said. She and her team became concerned about the number of trays being disposed of into land fills. “So this technology became the perfect solution,” she said. “Now I look forward to working with the out-of-the-box thinkers in the Valparaiso schools who work awfully hard to support the academic and lifelong success of students.”

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