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  • by Kay Kuehn, Executive Director

Food Safety and more at Open Hands

I just finished taking my Food Manager Re-certification course this week. I am always amazed at what I learn and how many things Open Hands needs to continually address to make sure we are serving and handling food properly. It may not seem like a big deal to some people that I ask you to wash your hands, wash your hands and um, wash your hands and not eat food while you are in the serving line, but truthfully this is extremely important to me and anyone who is working with food. Please know that if you are observed doing something that is not acceptable, our Cook, Steve, or myself, will point it out and ask you to fix whatever is the problem. You should also be diligent and watch one another and point out if you see something that is not right. It takes everyone doing their part to operate a safe and inviting atmosphere for the guests we serve each week. One thing we should all know, as it is really common sense, is hand washing is of the utmost importance and hand sanitizer is NOT a substitute for hand washing EVER! In fact, we may eliminate having this present at our meals altogether in the not to distant future. Here are the steps you should take when preparing to serve a meal at Open Hands:

  1. Put on a hair net, or a snug fitting cap, which MUST cover ALL your hair. Women have a terrible problem with this because they do not want to mess up their hair. I have been known to readjust their hairnets, and will continue to so for them, to cover ALL their hair.

  2. Wash your hands in the designated hand washing sink located in the kitchen. To be perfectly honest you shouldn't wash your hands in the bathroom sinks unless you can be absolutely sure you will touch nothing on your way back to the serving line before putting on your gloves. In other words, after washing your hands refrain from touching anything else so as to not contaminate your hands again!

  3. Put on your vinyl gloves.

When you are in the serving line please take precautions not to touch anything but the serving utensils, plates or to-go containers. If you must do something else you will need to remove your gloves, wash your hands and put on a new pair. It is pretty simple, if you step away from serving you MUST wash your hands before you return.

The bottom line for us is food safety and making sure no volunteers or guests becomes sick due to our oversight.

I would appreciate if you would take the time to watch the video I am provided here which comes from the USDA. You can access it by clicking the picture below.

Watching this video will allow everyone to know what to do, how to do it properly and to share that knowledge with your fellow Open Hands Volunteers as well as those who don't watch the video, although I am sure EVERYONE will take the time to view it and tell others to do the same, just sayin'...

As I sit here in my office I realize in just 44 days, that's June 11, our summer programming will begin. That means groups from all around the state, and other states, will be coming to serve with us through the YouthWorks organization. They will help run our weekly Kids' Club, help serve our Monday and Wednesday meals and assist with the Tuesday and Thursday Food Rescue from Kowalski's. I enjoy finding out where each group comes from and watching them engage in the service opportunities we provide.

For the second summer in a row, Hidden Pines Ranch in Stillwater is gifting our Kids' Club participants with a day at their camp. Last year the kids had so much fun and we look forward to offering that experience to them once more. If you are not familiar with Hidden Pines please check out their website by clicking on the Hidden Pines logo at right. We are also blessed with youth from Hidden Pines who come and serve with us on various days

throughout the summer. This gives them a chance to experience what it is like to serve in the inner city.

Something else I want to let you know about is that Open Hands is beginning to plan our 3rd Annual Golf Outing and Supper at Applewood Hills Golf Course in Stillwater. The date is set for Sunday July 29. The details will be forthcoming on our website, in the mail (if you are on our mailing list), on our Facebook page and in an upcoming newsletter. Having participated as a golfer the first two times, I am excited to see what this year brings. We are seeking sponsors for the event so if you have a business, or are associated with people who do, please let me know so we might ask them to be sponsors of our event. I have heard from those who have been sponsors in the past that they appreciated being asked and knew that they were supporting a worthy cause. For now we hope you will mark July 29 on your calendar so you don't plan over the date. Stay tuned for more details in the next month or so.

Finally, on a personal note it's my favorite time of year, the Stanley Cup Playoffs in the NHL! Though the WILD disappointed me again by losing in the first round, I am not without a team to cheer because I am simply a hockey-aholic and will watch any game there is. It's a sad day for me when the season finally ends and I have to wait 3 months for it to start all over again. The blessing is the time between is not long and there is always the NHL Network, just sayin'...

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