Spartans Making a Food Pantry Impact

By: 
Kristie Denbrock

What started out as a focus group on food safety training needs at a national conference has turned into a training book meeting the needs of 200 food banks and 60,000 partner agencies.  And that was just in the beginning.

ServSafe Food Handler Guide for Food Banking was created by Online Master of Science in Food Safety Alumna Mitzi Baum, Managing Director of Food Safety, and current student Wayne Melichar, Manager of Food Safety, Feeding America, Chicago, Illinois, in collaboration with the National Restaurant Association. “Food safety is not proprietary,” Baum said, “To ensure that the supply chain is safe, we discovered that we needed to create a resource that could be used in any pantry environment or hunger relief organization.”

With 14,000 copies already sold and in its second printing, the book caught the attention of Eileen Haraminac a Food Safety Educator with Michigan State University Extension. “The book is laid out very nicely with the most pertinent information relating to food banking,“ Harminac said, “Our volunteers will be able to gain valuable applicable knowledge and apply it directly to their duties.” Haraminac will share the books with the Macomb County Food Program which oversees 60 food pantries in Southeast Michigan.

The book’s chapter topics include: “Food Safety is Important,” “Good Personal Hygiene,” “Receiving and Storing Food Safety,” “Evaluating, Repacking and Transporting Food Safely,” “Cleaning and Sanitizing,” and concludes with a 30-question quiz. Throughout the book there are “Apply Your Knowledge” quizzes asking the student to apply information just learned in the chapter and a certificate of completion. Damaris Lawson a Partner Agency Resources Specialist at the North Texas Food Bank said, “This is a great course and I am so excited to offer a comprehensive food safety course to our pantries. I have heard for many years the grumbling and moaning about how the previous version of the ServeSafe Food Handler book really didn’t fit to what pantries do. So, I am super excited.”

Baum noted the next phase will be to create an on-demand video tutorial of the book. However, she is still seeking funding for that project. To order copies of “ServeSafe Food Handler Guide for Food Banking” contact Mitzi Baum at mbaum@feedingamerica.org. The books are sold in bundles of 10 for $70.00.

Food safety is not proprietary. To ensure that the supply chain is safe, we discovered that we needed to create a resource that could be used in any pantry environment or hunger relief organization.

– Mitzi Baum
  
  • Managing Director of Food Safety,
  • Feeding America, Chicago, Illinois