Food safety certification program available to local studentsBy Emily Beckett Published 3:13pm Friday, May 30, 2014
Students at any high school in Chilton County can now receive training and certification to work in the foodservice industry through a program called ServSafe.
All seven Family and Consumer Science teachers at local high schools are certified through ServSafe, a food safety certification course offered through the National Restaurant Association.
“In an effort to offer a credential that students can use in the workplace, FCS teachers will now be able to instruct, administer and proctor the ServSafe course,” said Rachel Rachels, Child Nutrition Program director for Chilton County Schools. “FCS teachers are under the career tech umbrella that is getting students college and career ready.”
Rachels is certified through ServSafe and recently taught a course to certify the last four FCS teachers in the county that were not previously certified.
Rachels said she hopes to see more students take advantage of the opportunity to become ServSafe certified in school and to see local businesses expand job opportunities to more students in the foodservice industry.
“We want to get to the point where we have a partnership with our local restaurants and grocery stores that will hire students,” Rachels said. “We can get these students where they’re going to carry value in the workplace. This [program] gives kids an edge to get a job, and they’re going to make it more competitive for adults.”
According to ServSafe.com, Alabama’s food safety requirements indicate that as of January 2010 at least one person in charge in a foodservice establishment “shall be a certified food protection manager who has shown proficiency of required information through obtaining a food safety certificate by passing a food safety certification examination administered by an accredited certifying program recognized by the Conference for Food Protection.”
Rachels said she has already noticed an uptick in local students working in foodservice jobs.
For example, at Thorsby, Rachels said 35 students (either currently enrolled or recent graduates) were working in foodservice in Chilton County as of December 2013.
In addition, the foodservice industry seems to be growing.
“Foodservice is not shrinking. It’s projected to grow over the next 10 years,” Rachels said. “People are always going to eat, and that’s why to me, foodservice is a safe career field.”
Rachels said the ServSafe certification program available to students is funded through the state.
“The state department is now requiring all career tech programs to offer some kind of recognizable credential that can be used in the workplace,” Rachels said. “There is a huge push to teach students something they can get a job with. The job market is so competitive that young adults need some kind of marketable edge.”
For more information about ServSafe, visit ServSafe.com.