After putting together our team, we did a needs assessment. Together we conducted a survey to students in grades 5-12, as well as teachers. The purpose of the survey was to determine what health issues the students were facing and if the perceived need by staff aligned with the school community. We had 418 responses and food safety was mentioned by over half of respondents. 12% reported gastrointestinal illness at least once in the previous two months. We knew we were on the right track. My partner and I met multiple times with kitchen staff and identified specific needs. Our school is in dire need of new kitchen equipment and dishware. There is only one functioning refrigerator/freezer and prepared food is often left un-refrigerated on tables overnight. Upon observing a lunch service, we observed that dishware is often quickly rinsed to be used again for children in line for meals. We identified the need for a freezer, an oven, steam-cooking drawer, a microwave, a large freezer, a new sink, dishware and a few pots and teapots. This is very important to the health and safety of the food storage, preparation and serving of meals for the children in the school. A major component of the project will be to equip the school with the means necessary to reduce gastrointestinal problems through proper selection, preparation, and storage of food.
Our overall goals will be accomplished through:
development of educational resources, staff, student, community training, and purchasing of equipment for the kitchen