Volunteer Leaders Get Trained for Summer Challenges

May 24, 2010 § Leave a comment

It’s only May, and we’re well on our way for a hot and humid next few months.  But did you know that foodborne illnesses increase during the summer?  According to the USDA, bacteria grows faster in the warm and humid summer months. Also, as outdoor activities increase, safety controls in the kitchen are not as available and people are more susceptible to illnesses.

For those of us with healthy immune systems and access to health care and proper nutrition, foodborne illnesses are less of an issue, or at least more manageable with proper care. However, the 48,000 Central Texans relying on our services each week face a greater challenge. We know from the Hunger in America 2010: Central Texas Report that about one-third of Food Bank clients don’t have access to health insurance and 23 percent of the households have one or more members in poor health.  Food safety is a big concern for these families, because a sickness can mean lost wages, or other costs they simply cannot afford.

Our Volunteer Leaders attended a session on the importance of food safety last Thursday. Volunteer Leaders are specially trained volunteers who help lead, educate and assist volunteers with food processing and quality control in our sorting areas.

“You do not want to compromise food safety, on the off chance that a senior or child becomes sick off a food item received from us due to negligence. Because [volunteers] are diligent and aware, [they] assist us in providing the healthy, nutritious food (of the highest standard) to our clients”, said Karla Cantu, Senior Director of Agency Relations.

Dana Shelton, Senior Director of Food Development, and Rachael Hawkey, Product Recovery Manager, also answered questions specific to inventory, quality control and donor relations. “From a food donor perspective, they (our food donors) work for years establishing a solid brand, consumer loyalty and trust. It’s important to understand how this relationship plays into the world of food safety as our donors trust us to process food safely and accordingly, “Shelton said.

“I thank the Food Bank for this session, because it helps me better understand the basis and background for the ‘why’ of how we inspect donations and that, in turn, helps us educate the volunteers we work alongside,“ said Cliff Wilkes, Volunteer Leader.

Thank you to the Volunteer Leaders who help extend our services and advocate for the importance of food safety.

How you can help:

Become a Volunteer Leader. Email Paige DeLeon, Sr. Director, Volunteer Resources, at pdeleon@austinfoodbank.org for more information.

Donate food wisely. Check for dents, bulges and expiration dates on donated non-perishable items before you donate.  You can also donate the safest item possible – money. A $5 donation lets us provide $25 worth of food.

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