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K-State Today

October 12, 2017

Center of Excellence on Food Safety and Research hosts Serving Up Science program

Submitted by College of Human Ecology

Serving up science participants

The Center of Excellence for Food Safety Research in Child Nutrition Programs has hosted almost 300 child nutrition professionals at its Serving up Science: The Path to Safe Food in Schools program in the last five years. The 2017 sessions included 74 participants from 39 states and territories.

The program is represented by alumni in 49 states, one territory, and the District of Columbia: 176 professionals from school districts, 90 professionals from child nutrition state agencies, and 17 professionals from the U.S. Department of Agriculture. Alumni of the program serve an average of 3.3 million school-aged children daily. Program alumni have indicated that they have used or plan to use the knowledge gained during the course to reach an additional 20,000 individuals engaged in child nutrition programs.  

Serving up Science is a weeklong program that provides advanced food safety training across the food chain specific to the school environment. Learning competencies include basic microbiology, foodborne risks in schools, safety plans, food safety communication, additives and insight about the production, harvest, and processing of milk, beef, pork, poultry, grains, fruits and vegetables. Structured field trips and laboratory experiences integrate the new knowledge with real-world application. 

As a multidisciplinary program, colleagues in the College of Agriculture's animal science and industry department and communications and agricultural education department, present topics specific to their areas of expertise. 

Kevin Roberts, director of the center and interim department head of hospitality management, said the network of K-State food safety colleagues enriches the depth of knowledge and practical applications. 

Several participants of the program also have shared their thoughts on the program. 

"It was amazing! Such valuable insights. I really liked how we learned information behind the scenes. I loved the tours and they helped to give insight into the process. To be honest it makes me want to go back to school. I was so impressed with the whole program. Nothing but praise!! What a valuable resource and the interest has been instilled," said Peggy Hamby, recent participant and child nutrition director at Morgan County Schools in Wartburg, Tennessee. 

"It was eye opening. I have sat through sanitation classes in the past, but this week in class gave us the science of everything. I enjoyed the hands-on experience, the different professors who are experts in their respective fields, and the tours which allowed us to see plants that I wouldn't normally have an opportunity to ever see … Overall it was amazing!!!! I personally would love to attend again," said another recent participant. 

Established in 2011 with funding from the USDA's Food Nutrition Service Office of Food Safety, the Center of Excellence for Food Safety Research in Child Nutrition Programs is located in the College of Human Ecology.

The Center’s current leadership team includes Roberts; Kevin Sauer, associate professor of food, nutrition, dietetics and health; Carol Shanklin, professor and dean of the Graduate School. 

Center staff includes Paola Paez, research associate professor; Kerri Cole, project coordinator; and Michelle Alcorn and Tracee Watkins, graduate research assistants.