Keeping food fundraisers safe

Food safety tips for planning a fundraiser for your child’s school, activities or groups.

If you are a parent, it seems like a month hardly goes by when you are not provided the opportunity to help organize or participate in food fundraisers to support your child’s school or extracurricular activities. From spaghetti dinners, bake sales, concession stand food sales, pancake dinners, it can feel like the list of activities can go on and on. For volunteers, the events are certainly worthwhile, and as customers, interacting with your community can be a treat. Supporting local youth and community events is a great investment and makes for a night free from cooking. If you are recruited to volunteer and help with planning and implementing the food fundraiser, there are resources to help you have a safe and successful event, each and every time.

Michigan State University Extension recommends that you and the other volunteers you work with in preparing for the food fundraiser all take the time to plan for a safe food event. MSU Extension offers a Cooking for Crowds class to educate volunteers on preparing safe food. We encourage the use of the four basic food safety practices: 1) Clean, 2) Separate, 3) Cook and 4) Chill. With each of these food safety practices are critical to keeping food safe and preventing foodborne illnesses. The following tips are necessary for keeping food safe at community meals. Remember: Whenever temperatures are listed, they must be checked with a calibrated thermometer to ensure you have reached the required cooking or reheating temperature.

  • Wash, rinse and sanitize cutting boards, dishes, utensils and work surfaces.
  • Wash hands with soap and warm water for at least 20 seconds before and after handling food and after using the bathroom.
  • Never place cooked food back on the same plate or cutting board that held raw food.
  • Cook food to safe minimum internal temperatures: It is the only way to tell if harmful bacteria are destroyed. Use a food thermometer to check the internal temperature of meat, poultry, casseroles, and other food. Check temperature in several places to be sure food is cooked to a safe minimum internal temperature.
  • Reheat to 165 degrees Fahrenheit - Just “warmed up” is not good enough. Use the stove, oven, or microwave to reheat food to 165 F. Bring sauces, soups, and gravies to a boil.
  • Keep hot food hot - at or above 140 F. Place cooked food in chafing dishes, preheated steam tables, warming trays and/or slow cookers.
  • Refrigerate or freeze perishable food within two hours of shopping or preparing.
  • Keep cold food cold at or below 40 F. Place food in containers on ice.

Following the food safety practices above will keep the delicious food safe and allow your fundraiser to be successful.

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