Students in the Hannibal Central School District are not the only ones who are subject to testing, as the Food Service Department recently passed its semiannual inspection.
The department, under the leadership of manager Debbie Richardson, receives a full examination from the Oswego County Health Department twice a year.
Each school undergoes a comprehensive inspection that checks for sanitation problems, safety violations, storage issues and a plethora of other potential hazards.
“They come in and they inspect Part 14 of the health code, which entails a little bit of everything,” Richardson said. “They check the temperatures of the foods and make sure everything is sanitary.”
According to Richardson, cold foods must be kept below 45 degrees while hot foods must be held at 140 degrees.
Anything in between the 45 degree and 140 degree range is known as a danger zone and food can’t be in that zone for more than two hours.
“But we are stricter than that, we’re extra careful with what we do,” Richardson said. “We have a driver and we temp the food before the driver takes it and again when it arrives at the other site.”
For Richardson, the fact that the district received no major violations during its inspections speaks to the efficiency and commitment of her employees.
“We have a head cook in each building who ensures day-to-day operations run smoothly and on time. We have a driver and other food service employees who all work together and make our operations successful,” Richardson said. “My staff here is so unique; yes they come for a paycheck, but that’s not the only reason. They really care about the students. They want to make sure we are giving the students what they want within the regulations and that they are happy with it. We’ve got some good foundation as far as years of experience and dedication.”
The food service department is much more than workers dishing up meals to the district’s students each day, Richardson said.
She noted that the department is responsible for “anything and everything” that needs to be done with food service, from ordering and preparing food to ensuring sanitation guidelines are met on a daily basis.