Summer is here, and many food programs are gearing up for summer meals. Whether you’re feeding hungry kiddos on their summer break or operating a satellite distribution, it’s important to keep safety in mind as the weather warms up.
Take steps to transport food safely to and from your main facility. Inspect your vehicles to confirm that they are clean and free of debris. Using an inspection checklist will document this food safety practice. Pack food in containers that are cleaned and sanitized before and after transport.
Transport cold storage items in a way that keeps refrigerated foods at 41° F or below and frozen foods at 0° F or below. You can accomplish this with a refrigerated vehicle, portable coolers, or an insulated blanket for shorter distances. Check the temperature of cold foods before leaving your facility and again upon arriving at the satellite site. Document these steps on a temperature log, and keep it on file at your agency. See a sample temperature log here.
If cold storage is not available at the distribution site, keep food in portable coolers. Temp food throughout the distribution, up to hourly in hot weather. Any items temping above 41° F should be discarded. Plan ahead so that all cooler and freezer items are distributed at the satellite site and do not need to be brought back to your facility.
Be mindful of your clients, staff, and volunteers in hot weather. Have plenty of water available to keep everyone hydrated and try to locate your distribution in a shady area. Sign up for hot weather alerts from your local health department, and learn how to recognize symptoms of heat exhaustion.
Taking a few minutes to ensure everyone stays safe will lead to a happier, healthier summer!