• Kay Kuehn

Just Sayin'...

Updated: Jan 28, 2020

Back in early January I received an email from Second Harvest indicating that someone from Open Hands would have to take the Food Manager Certification course for our organization to be licensed. I will give you one guess who the lucky winner of going to the class was. Right, ME! The kicker was I noticed the day would culminate with a test! Let me tell you that for the remainder of January and up until the day of the test, February 23, I was nervous about this because I DO NOT LIKE TESTS! I reluctantly read all about handling food safely, diseases that cause food bourne illness (and their very graphic symptoms), pest infestation, personal hygiene, proper temperatures to store and cook food at in food establishments and much more. Then the day arrived. I can honestly say it was both educating and daunting at the same time. We had a very large class of students, the instructor said more than usual, and of course we had to get that one person who needs to ask a question about EVERYTHING. By the time the afternoon session came along I think just about everyone wanted to collectively tell her to be quiet. This of course put the whole day behind by an hour. Finally at 4:30 I began the 90 question test. I was grateful I selected to take it on the computer as opposed to a paper copy because the computer option would give you your results immediately. An hour later I reviewed my test, turned to give that 'out of the corner of my eye' look at my computer screen, and pushed the submit button. To my delight, I PASSED! Talking to others afterwards it was unanimous that the test was hard. I can tell you there were many who walked out saying they had to take it again because they failed. I felt very fortunate, and I do not know if I passed by a large margin or just eeked by, but I PASSED! I had to submit my certificate to the State of Minnesota, plus a fee, to get my official license but again, I PASSED! The license is good for three years and as long as I take a four hour refresher course before it totally expires - that does NOT include a test - my license will be renewed. You can bet I will be marking my calendar in big bold letters so I do NOT have to go through the test process again, that was a challenge, just sayin'....

One of the things I learned during reading and attending the class, but already had known the majority of, was with regard to hand washing and handling food. Because of this I will be making sure that EVERYONE who is volunteering first washes their hands and then puts on gloves if they are working with any type of food preparation. It is critical to the safety of our guests. We cannot afford to have our guests get sick because we have been slacking in this area. You need to know that you cannot use your gloved hand to touch anything but food. If you do, you have to take the gloves off because they are essentially contaminated and must be replaced with a new pair. Keep in mind that we would rather spend a few dollars on gloves than to have anyone get sick because you maybe decided to touch your face, pick something up off the floor, or any other way your gloves would become contaminated, and then worked with food. This CANNOT HAPPEN! Therefore if you volunteer you can expect I will be making sure you are following this critical practice. You also have to be sure you wash your hands after using the restroom or anything not related to food. As the handbook I read for this class often would repeat the same thing over and over I will do the same. Wash your hands, wash your hands, wash your hands and then put on your gloves, it is really that simply. There will be signs near sinks in both the kitchen and bathrooms regarding hand washing, I first need to get them laminated so they last. In the meantime I am just asking you to wash your hands, wash your hands and by the way, wash your hands. Did I say that yet? Another thing you need to be very aware of is NOT to come and volunteer if you are sick, have been sick or feel as though you may be starting to get sick. I would rather we are short volunteers than have you come and spread whatever you have to others. All of these things, and more, will no doubt be covered in some way as a part of the volunteer handbook we are putting together. Suffice it to say I know you are all intelligent people and just using a little common sense will go a long way towards making this a safe and healthy environment for everyone to be in. Thanks for listening, just sayin'.... Before I end my 'Just sayin' piece, I feel the need to share a recent story with you. For those of you who have ever had a pet you will understand what I am about to write. Back in about 2010 my friend Shelley introduced me to her dog Gus. As I was attending Bethel University and Bethel Seminary over the next few years, I would often take a break from my studies, walk to Shelley's house and get Gus to go walking with me. Shelley's occupation was a hair stylist and she conducted her business out of her home so she did not have the time to take Gus on walks, simply time to let him out in the yard. What happened over the course of the last six years was nothing short of fabulous. My new furry friend stole my heart and I simply loved to spend time with him and he with me. When Shelley and her husband would go out of town, I would often stay at their house with Gus or bring him to stay at my house. Imagine what a heartbreak it was the day Shelley told me they would be moving to Montana. Well time heals the separation and lucky for me Shelley and her husband are both from Minnesota so there are relatives all over that they come back to visit and Gus comes and stays with me! But all good stories have an end and this one has ended. A week ago today I got a text message from Shelley that stated, "Hi Kay, I wanted to let you know we said good-bye to Gus today. His quality of living had diminished quite a bit over the last three weeks. A hard day. He went peacefully. I have a hole in my heart, yet immediately sensed his peace. Thank you for LOVING him, he LOVED you too!" Yes, even though Gus was not my dog I cried as if I had lost a member of my own family. Through my tears I called Shelley to say how sad I was and thanked her for letting me share Gus with them. I miss my furry friend who was only 11 years old, young for a small dog, but am ever grateful for the time I had with him and all the pictures Shelley gave me of the two of us over time. I miss ya Gus, just sayin'...

Before I close I have to share something very exciting, well at least it was for me. One day as I was helping during the Monday meal, a woman I see often at our food shelf and the Monday meal said she needed to talk to me. She pulled me aside and said, "Kay, I just wanted to thank you for everything you have done for me and my family. You have been so kind and such a friend to me." She handed me an card and said I should open it later. It was a simple card of thanks that said, "Thank you for being who you are, for all you do for others, it is greatly appreciated." I have to say it made my day. I guess I have touched one life and I always say, "Lord, if I touch one life today in some way I feel I have glorified you." That day I did, just sayin'....

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