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A vital component of a successful, professional grilled cheese deli is food safety. Honoring food safety principles is a promise to keep your customers safe, your volunteers accountable and your university feeling secure and motivated to support your chapter. Plus, instilling trust in your enterprise will help to maximize your impact in the sustainable end to world hunger. This guide will help you and your chapter to navigate the steps to ending world hunger, one food safe grilled cheese at a time.
GARNER UNIVERSITY SUPPORT
Ideally, your chapter has already started communication with your university’s student affairs office, environmental health and safety office, dining services and/or student government. University support is often a gateway for your chapter becoming an official, recognized student organization. This is important because so much of food safety requires funding and capital. Official student organization status can give you access to:
Liability insurance Funding for supplies Campus resources Facilities Framework for operating on campus
However, the issue of food safety is sometimes a hurdle for start-up chapters, since health and safety are important considerations! Start conversations with potential campus partners. We highly recommend having face-to-face conversations with campus contacts in student affairs, environmental
health and safety, dining services and student government. Approach them for partnership, not permission. Be proactive and knowledgeable. Recognize the concerns about a student-run food operation, but identify your plan for addressing them, from food safety certification to volunteer training. Explain why we sell grilled cheese. It’s sustainable, cost-effective, simple, nostalgic, accessible…and relatively low-risk! FeelGood never serves meat, which inherently contains more food-borne pathogens and is far more challenging to store, prepare, and serve safely. Cheese and vegetables, on the other hand, are foods with low risk, particularly when they are stored well and sourced as locally as possible, both of which are goals of FeelGood! For more information and support on building campus partnerships, check out the Deli Basics Guide and Dining Service Partnership Guide in the Resource Center!
FIND A LOCATION ON CAMPUS
Next, you will need to find a location for your deli. Student delis look very different across the FeelGood movement. Some are inside, some are outside. Some have their own kiosk, some reserve space in a campus building. Some are on quad lawns, some are at school sporting events. As you start envisioning what your deli will look like, it is important to ask yourself and your team the following questions. Basic questions:
Where are possible locations on campus? Where will we have the greatest exposure to our campus community? What days and times would be best? Are there other events where we could potentially set-up, like tailgates or concerts?
Food safety questions:
Will we have access to adequate electricity for grills? Will there be a sink for hand washing? Will we have shelter from inclement weather? Will we have adequate lighting? Will we have refrigeration or a cooler for ingredient storage? Will there be enough table space for separate and clean order taking, sandwich preparation and grilling?
If your deli location – real or envisioned - does not have access to the above items, it might not be particularly food safe. However, don’t think of this as a challenge. Think of this as an opportunity to get creative and professionalize your deli! Get together with your team or meet with your on-campus partners. Is there a location that is better suited for a food-safe deli? Are there ways to make your current location more food safe?
CERTIFY LEADERS IN FOOD SAFETY
To ensure the safety of your deli and the grilled cheese you serve, FeelGood requires that 2 or more of your chapter leaders become certified in food handling. Ideally, this should happen within your first year of becoming an operating deli. And continue every year after that. Two major avenues exist for this: ServSafe Food Handler Program ServSafe is a food safety training and certificate program administered by the National Restaurant Association. The program is accredited by the American National Standards Institute and the Conference for Food Protection. Training and certification is recognized by more federal, state and local jurisdictions than any other food safety certification. Basically, ServSafe is pretty legit. The online course costs $15 per person. It can be completed at a personal computer in about 60 to 90 minutes. It covers five sections: Food Safety, Personal Hygiene, CrossContamination and Allergens, Time and Temperature, and Cleaning and Sanitation. The online exam is a 40-question, non-proctored test and has no time limit. For more information, visit www.servsafe.com City or County Health Department Your local city or county health department should also offer food safety certifications. Unlike ServSafe, these certifications are guaranteed be recognized by your local jurisdiction. However, the certification process looks different in every county. The course and exam costs range from $40 - 200 per person. You may be required to take an in-person course or you may be able to study independently with a guide book. However, the exam will likely be in-person. If you decide to go the local route, visit your local health department website for more information! These websites are fairly easy to find; just try searching for it.
Funding Your student government may be willing to allocate funds to your chapter for food safety certifications, especially if you present it as an investment in student capital. If not, you can also use Cheese Points to help cover costs. A way to maximize these funds is to specifically invest in younger leaders or members. This will show that you value and trust them, in addition to ensuring that the certification lasts in your chapter for the 3 years it is valid.
OBTAIN A FOOD VENDOR PERMIT
There is a big difference between getting a food permit for your deli and having a couple members be food safety certified. A food permit puts you legally accountable for deli operations and the results of possible health inspections. While FeelGood does not require your chapter to get a food vendor permit, some universities require it. If your university requires this step, we suggest that you look into what regulations exist in your area. Regulations and permits change depending on your state, county, and/or city health department. Do your research. Visit your local health department website for more information. These websites are fairly easy to find; just try searching for it. However, the food vendor permit regulations might seem a little murky. Just do your best. Figure out which permit fits you best. Compare your FeelGood deli specifics (location, outside versus inside, frequency, menu) and compare to their permit types. Make a plan. Permits often cost $70 or more per year. The timeline for application processing can be upwards of 4 to 6 weeks. So start planning and securing funds as soon as possible, to prevent delays in establishing your deli! For more information and support on building campus partnerships, contact your FeelGood World University Team contact!
TRAIN MEMBERS AND VOLUNTEERS
Of course, effectively disseminating food safety training to chapter members and deli volunteers key!
Training Luckily, there is a Journey to help you do this! Spend a chapter meeting going through “Food Safety and Sanitation: A FeelGood Journey,” which is located in CheeseWorld. Holding Each Other Accountable “FeelGood is unlike other food-service establishments in that we are entirely studentrun…At FeelGood, we are all students and are all friends…For this reason, rule breakers are not held accountable for their offense. No one wants to correct their friend and risk embarrassing her for something silly like forgetting to wear close-toed shoes! …I think that at FeelGood, we need to get a bit bolder and a bit tougher: bolder in our willingness to correct the mistakes of our friends and tougher in our ability to accept criticism from each other.” This was written by Jamie Gilroy, former Deli Manager and Vice President of FeelGood at the University of Vermont, in her blog “Cheddar and Change.” It speaks to the importance of holding each other accountable at the deli. Recognize awesome food safety practices, but don’t be afraid to point out the not-so-awesome ones, too. To read the entire blog post, visit cheddarandchange.wordpress.com/2012/03/19/health-and-safety-at-the-kiosk/.
CREATE A FOOD SAFE DELI
Now that you have a location, a food vendor permit, food handling certifications and volunteer training, it is time to translate these food safety principles to your deli! Here is some actual deli activity from across the movement. Let’s take a look and see some do’s and don’t’s. Keep in mind that this is not calling chapters out, but rather recognizing that we can all improve our food safety practices. Don’t touch anything but food when wearing food gloves. Not your cell phone. Not your clothes. Not your hair. Not your iPod. Not your sunglasses. Not money or donations. Not pens to take orders.
Do have separate areas for order taking, sandwich assembly and grilling. This will help prevent cross-contamination.
Don’t wear long hair down. Always tie back hair into a ponytail. Wear a hat, too, if your chapter has them!
Do have a hand washing sink in the same room or space as the deli. Remember, you need warm water, anti-bacterial soap, friction and a clean towel or air-dryer for proper hand washing.
Don’t enjoy your own grilled cheese when wearing food gloves or volunteering with sandwich assembly or grilling. That is a major risk for cross-contamination.
Do have a clean and organized sandwich preparation station Ingredients should only touch sanitized preparation surfaces, utensils and containers.
Don’t prepare or touch sandwich ingredients with bare hands. This is often a red flag to customers. Use new, clean food gloves every time you wash your hands and/or change tasks.
Do have a refrigerator or a good cooler with ice. Perishable ingredients, like cheese and toppings, can only be at room temperature for 2 hours. Keep these items in the refrigerator or on-ice until you need it.
OTHER FOOD SAFETY RESOURCES US Department of Health and Human Services - Food Safety www.foodsafety.gov US Department of Agriculture http://www.fsis.usda.gov/Fact_Sheets/Safe_Food_Handling_Fact_Sheets/index.asp