Helping people recognize the importance of a workforce able to provide safe and nutritious food is a priority for the Food Protection and Defense Institute (FPDI). This led to Deb Freedman, Education Manager at FPDI, collaborating with Saint Paul Public School (SPPS) District Career and Technical Education Teachers, Allison Zaccardi and Stephanie Love, for the past two years to provide culinary high school students with practical experience in keeping our food supply safe.
Last year, the trio developed curriculum for high school culinary students to learn about broader food production and protection practices. The curriculum allowed students to observe a fictional food incident response tabletop exercise in which emergency responders created response plans and identified opportunities for improving food protection from supply chain to food service. The students gained insight about food protection and incident response practices as emergency responders talked through hypothetical incident details, response procedures, and collaboration protocols.
This year the FPDI and SPPS collaboration brought 40 high school culinary students to SPPS Nutrition Services to learn how food is safely prepared and distributed throughout the district. Jeff Ansorge, SPPS Nutrition Center Manager, toured the high school students through the facility and helped them understand the size and scope of the food service in the district. Students saw food being prepared, trucks being loaded, and workers following good manufacturing practices. They were amazed that SPPS Nutrition Services supplies over 37,000 students with safe and nutritious food every day.
The high school students observed and learned about receiving ingredients, preparing food, distribution, and food safety and food protection plans. Moreover, students interacted with and listened to various workforce professionals who consider the safety of the food supply an integral part of their work. Professionals from public health, law enforcement, and food distribution spoke about how their daily work activities ensure a safe, nutritious and accessible food supply.
This experience provided the culinary students with a better understanding of what it means to be a part of a food production operation, different workforce activities, and the dedication of the SPPS Nutrition Center team associated with providing quality meals to SPPS students.