Parkes East Public School canteen manager steps down after 25 years

HANDING OVER THE BATON: Lindy Napier with Parkes East principal Michael Ostler and new canteen manager Fiona Francis.
HANDING OVER THE BATON: Lindy Napier with Parkes East principal Michael Ostler and new canteen manager Fiona Francis.

It's more than 25 years since Lindy Napier made the big step up from canteen volunteer to manager at her daughter's school ... now she's turned her last perfect pikelets off the Parkes East Public School stovetop.

It's been a wonderful quarter of a century, and she reflected in her last week in the role before school wrapped up for 2021.

"I have enjoyed it," she told the Parkes Champion Post.

"The kids are gorgeous, I get to work with lovely volunteers, the staff - they're all great.

"I'm the world's best pikelet maker!" she adds with a chuckle.

Parkes East principal Michael Ostler and canteen chair Sally McPherson affirm she will be very much missed by the school community.

"Lindy is the most outstanding canteen manager I have seen in 35 years of teaching," Mr Ostler said.

"We will miss her greatly, but we know she will maintain an association with our school."

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They are also delighted that a friendly new face of the school community - Fiona Francis - will be taking on the role and will be there to greet the kids with a smile when the canteen roller doors go up at the start of the new school year.

The canteen manager has a pretty big role in the life of a school: employed by the P and C and planning the menus, rostering 15 to 25 volunteers, and doing the canteen bookwork.

In the past 25 years, Mrs Napier has overseen a pretty dramatic overhaul of the traditional menu too.

Wonder of wonders, Mrs Napier has smoothly transitioned the tastes of the Parkes East students from chips and fizzy drinks to apple slinkies and fruit salad.

"Once we had to get rid of the lollies I thought we were in trouble but the kids just adapted and it's a lot healthier," she said. "We just had to think smarter, to make it fun and colourful."

Juice ice blocks and juice jelly are now the most popular items on the menu: just a drop of colour and they're transformed into a treat the kids love.

"When I started you couldn't give an apple away," Mrs Napier said. "I did four apple slinkies just at recess today."

Fruit salad - with optional custard - also proved amazingly popular.

The introduction of FlexiSchools, which has seen about 70 per cent of canteen turnover go online, has been the other big change in canteens in Mrs Napier's time.

Yes the canteen manager and her team of volunteers are wizards at working out change (they probably play a part in helping the kids with their money maths too!) but a lot of canteen transactions are now electronic.

The team would always welcome new volunteers: if parents have time they can spare between 9am and 2pm the P and C would love to hear from you.

Oh and the other bit of good news is, these days there's a dishwasher in the kitchen too!

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