As summer break ends and school begins, school cafeterias everywhere are reopening. Millions of meals will be served in schools this year and since children are considered a highly susceptible population, they are at a higher risk for foodborne illnesses.
Safeguarding school lunch food safety
In recent years, the federal government has pushed for several changes in public school lunchrooms to improve food safety and nutrition for the children of America. The National School Lunch Act promotes food safety in schools to protect students. It requires that a food safety program be based on Hazard Analysis Critical Control Points (HACCP) principles. Additionally, the Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act of 2010 extended this to apply to all facilities involved in a school meal program, not just the cafeteria. Recently, the United States Department of Agriculture released the Food-Safe Schools Action Guide for School Nutrition Directors, which can be a useful resource for health department officials and inspectors alike.
The most important part of food safety in schools is to create a food safety culture. That means encouraging as much education as possible for anyone involved in school nutrition programs, or creating a program for school cafeteria inspections specifically. School cafeterias cannot close their doors due to a poor inspection; so, encouraging a good food safety foundation, such as the prerequisite programs detailed in the HACCP process, is key in preventing major violations and foodborne illness outbreaks.
Food safety resources for schools and health departments
StateFoodSafety is happy to provide food safety training resources for schools and health departments at no cost. We provide printable reminders as well as digital training resources.
Contact StateFoodSafety at firstname.lastname@example.org for more information on free resources for your school or health department.
To learn more about food safety, check out our online food handler, manager, and alcohol server/seller training courses at StateFoodSafety.com.
— Rachelle Riffle
Editor’s note: This post was originally published in August 2015 and has been updated for freshness, accuracy, and comprehensiveness.