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SafeFood© Fair with North East Iowa Food and Fitness Initiative

Six school districts in North East Iowa involved in the Food and Fitness Initiative are part of a pilot Farm-to-School (F2S) project to include more local foods in child nutrition programs. ISU Extension has played an active role in facilitating this effort. Nutrition and Health Educator Cindy Baumgartner recently organized a SafeFood© Fair attended by 28 school nutrition program personnel on February 18th. 

This training was partially funded by the Leopold Center through F2S funding. HRIM Extension Specialist Catherine Strohbehn provided a one-hour overview of best practices when preparing and serving food, and for cleaning and sanitizing.

Concepts about proper personal hygiene (including handwashing the right way at the right times), food handling to avoid cross contamination, temperature controls,  (including proper use of calibrated thermometers and rapid cooling of hot foods), and cleaning and sanitizing of food contact services were addressed. Participants engaged in activities related to these issues by rotating through five stations facilitated by Nutrition and Health Educators Baumgartner and Jill Weber, and Strohbehn.

Foodservice staff practiced proper calibration of thermometers, saw the effects of improper handwashing procedures, and used a test strip to determine if proper chemical sanitization concentrations were reached. Research has found that learners gain more when there is an opportunity to engage in the experience; the SafeFood© Fair provided this opportunity.  

Comments from participants include:

  • I will be more conscious how I wash my hands, especially length of wash time
  • I learned how to calibrate the thermometer
  • I learned why the 2 step cool down process is so important
  • I have a new perspective on how easy it is to contaminate foods and work surfaces
  • I learned why to use t-strips to test the water temp in the dish washer and not rely only on the temperature gauge.

Nutrition and Health Field Specialist Jill Weber demonstrates how to calibrate a thermometer
Nutrition and Health Field Specialist Jill Weber demonstrates how to calibrate a thermometer.