A Philosophy That Has Stood The Test Of Time

Opaa! founder Kenneth Short learned a lot about food service as assistant food director at the University of Missouri-Columbia. Later, in 1978, while working as district manager for American Food Management, Ken decided to start his own food service business. He formed Opaa! Food Management Inc. and began seeking out potential clients.

One afternoon, driving along Interstate 70, he decided he had time to make one more sales call. He thought of Kemper Military School and College in Boonville and decided to give it a try. Four months later, Kemper awarded Opaa! its very first contract.

Ken's initial goal was to operate four to six schools of Kemper's size so that he could always give the food service a personal touch. He never wanted to lose sight of who he was feeding and the ability to know every child by name. Even in the early days of Opaa!, he made every effort to source food locally.

Today, Missouri-based Opaa! is still family-owned and operated with Ken's son Kevin at the helm. Opaa! serves 5 states, with 120 Missouri school districts, 38 Kansas school districts, 24 Oklahoma school districts, 3 Arkansas school districts and 3 Nebraska school districts, at over 600 school sites. In spite of such phenomenal growth, Ken's philosophy of friendly, personalized service still drives Opaa's approach to food service. Kevin is confident his father would be proud of the over 2,500 Opaa! employees whose daily mission is to "Make Their Day."

(For a glimpse at the early days of Opaa!, click here to read a 1979 newspaper interview with founder Ken Short. See how Ken's unique philosophy about food quality and his genuine care for students came to define the path that Opaa! still follows today.)