WV Selected to Lead National School Food Safety Project

September 05, 2002

CHARLESTON, WV– As children return to school, teachers, school nurses, county extension personnel and local health department staff in 10 West Virginia counties are joining together to fight the spread of illness and improve school attendance rates. West Virginia is one of only six states selected by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) to pilot a national school food safety project.  

The participating WV counties include: Fayette, Grant, Harrison, Kanawha, Logan, Marion, Mercer, Ohio, Roane and Wayne. These counties are receiving federal grant funds to further improve food safety in the school environment.  

A major focus of the school food safety program is the promotion of proper and frequent handwashing by students, teachers and others. According to the CDC, handwashing is generally the single most effective way to prevent the transmission of disease. Proper handwashing can prevent the transfer of germs from hands to food, from infected children to other children, and from one food to another. This helps to reduce absenteeism and promote better health in the school environment.  

Handwashing is just part of a more comprehensive food safety program that includes safe food handling practices for students and school staff. The program will measure the schools’ capacity to address food safety issues and respond to foodborne illnesses. In-service training will be offered for school foodservice personnel, school nurses, and teachers, as well as food safety education for students, parents and the community.  

Middle and high school students in selected schools will learn about food safety issues through a “Science and Our Food Supply” program sponsored by the National Science Teachers Association (NSTA) and the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA).  

September is also National Food Safety Education Month NFSEM), an annual observance to focus attention on the importance of safe food handling and preparation in both home and schools. “Four Steps To Food Safety” is this year's theme. It emphasizes the four basic messages of safe food handling: Clean, Separate, Cook, and Chill. Educators will be working to increase public awareness of foodborne illness prevention.  

To learn more about food safety and school food safety program activities, please contact Scottie Ford, Coordinator with the Office of Child Nutrition, at (304) 558-5363.

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