T3-04 Safe Food Handling Behaviors of Student Volunteers in an On-campus Food Reclamation Program

Monday, July 10, 2017: 2:15 PM
Room 15 (Tampa Convention Center)
Harry Schonberger , Virginia Tech , Blacksburg , VA
Renee Boyer , Virginia Tech , Blacksburg , VA
Melissa Chase , Virginia Tech/Virginia Cooperative Extension , Blacksburg , VA
Introduction: The Campus Kitchen is a national program supported at colleges and universities in the United States as a way for students to combat hunger by reclaiming surplus food from the university and distributing it in their community. At Virginia Tech, Campus Kitchen has engaged over 300 students to divert over 23,340 pounds of surplus food from waste streams in on-campus dining facilities since launching in September, 2015. Student volunteers either deliver food directly to two community clients or repurpose it into side dishes and desserts for them. These students have completed different levels of food safety training that supports their work, ranging from the ServeSafe® Manager certification through an academic course, to training through Dining Services, to not receiving any training prior to volunteering.

Purpose: The purpose of this study was to assess the effectiveness of current food safety trainings on the food handling behaviors of student volunteers and to determine if there are additional training needs for this audience.

Methods:   Observations were conducted with students volunteering at each level of the program (food diversion, delivery, and cooking shifts); their self-reported safe food handling practices were recorded via online survey to determine consistency with their observed behaviors.

Results: Volunteers, regardless of their level of training, were observed engaging in unsafe food handling behaviors. Those who participated in formalized food safety training were more aware of their behaviors. Students believed they would benefit from additional training, which should be developed for their continuing education.

Significance: With growing interest in food reclamation and access, practicing safe food handling is a key need for these programs. This study highlights gaps in food safety training for this specific food handler audience.