Because school food management is all we do, school districts that partner with us get nourishing, child-friendly meals that appeal to even the pickiest eaters, while meeting stringent regulatory requirements. Our menus include made-from-scratch rolls and other delicious dishes made fresh every day, along with a variety of locally grown fruits and vegetables and other nutritious choices that support a healthy learning environment.
Our regional buying power helps keep meals affordable. Our scratch-cooking approach also enables us to make the most of government commodities or cash in lieu a district receives. The bottom line—we have the skills to make school food service programs self-supporting.
These are among the many reasons why Opaa! is trusted by more than two-thirds of Missouri and Kansas school districts that contract out their food service, as well as a growing number of schools in Oklahoma, Arkansas, and Nebraska, Illinois and Iowa. Our 3500+ employees have helped us achieve a school district retention rate of 97%!*.
*as measured from 2010-2019
Opaa! is a common Greek expression for Hurrah! Ken first heard “Opaa!” from one of his early co-workers, a joy-filled man of Greek heritage. The enthusiastic, celebratory nature of the word encapsulated the spirit Ken envisioned for his new company. We continue today to bring a feeling of Opaa! to all we do.
WHY THE NAME OPAA!?
Over time, that plan changed! Building on Ken’s successful formula of made-from-scratch cooking and friendly, personalized service, Missouri-based Opaa! has today grown to serve more than 800 schools in over 250 school districts across seven states. Still family-owned and operated, Opaa! is now led by Ken’s son, Kevin, who is confident his father would be proud of the more than 3,500 Opaa! employees who make a positive difference in the lives of children each day.
Opaa! founder Kenneth Short began formulating his vision for what a great school food service might be in the late-60's when he took a job as assistant food director at the University of Missouri.
A few years later, the U.S. government lifted regulations that previously made it difficult for food service management companies to operate in public schools, and Ken—by then a district manager for American Food Management—seized the opportunity. In 1978, he founded Opaa! Food Management Inc., and recruited Kemper Military School and College, a 134-year-old private military academy in rural Boonville, Missouri, as Opaa!’s first customer.
Still family-owned and operated, Opaa! is now led by Ken's son, Kevin.
Ken wanted to know each child he was feeding—by name. He also sought local sources for the food his staff prepared. To maintain that personal, homegrown touch, his original plan called for Opaa! to serve no more than six schools.
A school meal can be the highlight of a child's day. For some children, it might be the only wholesome meal they receive that day. What a responsibility—and a privilege—it is to be the ones who "Make Their Day."
Our mission—“Make Their Day”—gives us a common purpose. It reminds us that a warm smile and an encouraging word can be as important to a child as a tasty, satisfying meal. By making a child's day, we also make our own.
Members of the Opaa! Family…
Act in the best interest of the students, schools, and communities we serve
Are honest in everything we do
Have a passion to serve others
Commit to continuous improvement
The Opaa! Promise
Everything we do at Opaa! is built on four sustainable pillars that clearly identify what internal and external customers can expect from our company.
Fresh, safe and nutritious offerings
Flexible and proven programs