Chef Timothy Cipriano, Executive Director of Food Services for New Haven Public Schools has been invited by the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) to attend the inaugural class of Produce Safety University (PSU) August 9-13 to help refine the class before they open it up to other school food service directors. The class will be held at the USDA Training Center in Fredericksburg, VA. The class is being organized and administered by the National Food Service Management Institute (NFSMI). All expenses will be paid for by USDA.
Chef Tim is one of 4 school food service directors nationwide attending the class (Sharlene Wong from Wallingford Schools is also attending) along state agency administrators from many states nationwide. PSU is designed to educate both school food service directors and state agency administrators about food safety when utilizing fresh produce. With the large influx of farm to school programs and with more districts shifting to fresh produce, USDA is being proactive by starting this class to educate the operators. With the recent increase in food safety recalls, this class will help point out the warning signs to look for. In addition the class will talk about Good Agriculture Practices, items the school food service director should look for when choosing farms to work with as well as a discussion on Good Handling Practices. Other topics will include seasonal purchasing, school gardens, farm to school programs and preventing contamination of fresh produce in the flow of food.
This invitation is another step forward for New Haven Public Schools. The USDA is once again turning to NHPS for help. In SY 08-09 we were a pilot district for whole grain products; last school year we were chosen to participate in 2 separate studies: one to look at our menu items and the other to track our food buying habits to help define new food buying trends.
We are leading the way of not only offering more real, made from scratch foods but also showing that the kids are interested and consuming the foods. Our participation has increased every year in the past 2 school years and we see the trend continuing as we introduce new and exciting kid friendly products.
“Systematic change in needed in this country to control childhood obesity and to educate our children on proper nutrition and choosing REAL foods. Farm to School and school gardens are the impetus for this change.” says Cipriano. “It is very easy to engage children with food, real food from local farms. But it is also very important to make sure, as school food operators, that the food is safe. I am very happy to be working with USDA and NFSMI to refine this course, the real beneficiary will be the children.”