September is National Food Safety Month

September is National Food Safety Month, a great time to review prothermometerper safety practices with your school food service staff. Although the incidence of foodborne illness in schools is low, education and prevention are critical. Food poisoning or foodborne illness is caused by consuming foods contaminated with bacteria and causes flu-like symptoms including nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea. The Center for Disease Control estimates that one in six people contract a foodborne illness each year in America.

The USDA has established professional standards for school nutrition program employees effective for the 2015-2016 school year. The final rule states that new SFA directors must have at least 8 hours of food safety training within 5 years prior to starting date, or have completed training within 30 days of starting date.

This fall, JSI will be partnering with The School Nutrition Association of Massachusetts by offering the Essentials of Food Safety Workshop at the Fall 2015 Chapter Meetings across the state. Contact your delegate for the date and location scheduled near you. You can also request the same 2-hour Essentials of Food Safety Workshop to Go delivered directly to your school, which covers food safety basics, strategies to avoid cross contamination, proper hand washing, and how to avoid the danger zone. The Institute of Child Nutrition is another excellent training resource and offers many useful food safety fact sheets that can be used to remind you and your staff of potential food related hazards and safety measures.

Additional resources for food safety are available in The John Stalker Institute Resource Center. Check it out!

Apply by September 11th for Project Bread’s Chefs in Schools Program

What is Chefs in Schools?
Chefs in Schools is a Massachusetts based training program in which school food service staff is taught how to prepare healthy, cost effective recipes that students will eat. It began in just three Boston Public Schools and has since expanded to Chelsea, Lawrence, Salem, and Beverly Public Schools and anticipates further expansion for the 2015-2016 school year.

What does this mean?
Districts across the Commonwealth will now have the opportunity to participate in this proven program. Participating districts will receive a chef one to three days per week to train cafeteria staff on basic culinary skills, time management, cooking times and temperatures, basic cooking techniques, use of herbs and spices, presentation, and marketing.

How can my district participate?
Read more about the guidelines here.
Fill out an application, save it, attach it in an email to
Hurry! Applications are due Friday, September 11, 2015.

~ blog written by Samantha Therrien, graduate student in Food and Nutrition at Framingham State University.