Helping to feed thousands of people each month is a big task – and it comes with big responsibilities. It is our goal to share with you the knowledge we have about keeping food, and families, safe. According to the USDA’s Food Safety and Inspection Service, over 76 million cases of foodborne illness occur in the United States each year. For us at the Food Bank, nothing is more important than the safety of the food items we provide to the community.
The Food Bank has strict requirements for its member agencies when it comes to food safety. For the protection of the consumer, we enforce proper refrigeration and freezer storage of all perishable food products we distribute. Guidelines for dry food storage, all food preparation, the thawing and cooking of food, serving food and how to handle leftovers are all tightly regulated. Regular site inspections give us the opportunity to see first-hand how our member agencies follow proper procedures to maintain safe food storage and distribution.
Not only are agencies inspected annually, but the staff must also have completed an approved food safety course. The extent of the course varies based on the population that the agency is serving.
All food pantries, snack programs, summer camps, adult day-care and child day-care programs are required to complete the Food Safety Training Workshop offered by the Food Bank of WNY. This is a 2-hour, basic food safety class that covers the importance of preventing foodborne illness through good personal hygiene, proper receiving, storage, and repacking techniques.
All soup kitchens, group homes, shelters, Kids Café, and BackPack programs are required to have a staff member who has successfully completed the ServSafe Manager Certification program. This course offers an extensive curriculum that teaches agencies' staff how to serve safe food. It provides an understanding of food safety risks and how to reduce them and keep clients safe.
As you know, the Food Bank of WNY has been on a mission to train the staff and volunteers of food pantries, snack programs, BackPack programs, and child and adult day care programs in food safety as a result of new Feeding America guidelines. We would like to offer you another resource to train additional volunteers and staff in food safety.
We have developed a Basic Food Safety training video that can be accessed on-line and at the convenience of agency coordinators, staff and volunteers. This allows anyone associated with an agency to become trained. It is necessary to give those taking the course your agency number. There must be at least one staff member with this training. It is recommended that 3-4 people complete the training. The certificate generated at the end of the training needs to be printed and kept on file with agency records.
Please remember that we require soup kitchens, shelters, group homes, summer camps and Kids Cafes to have at least one staff member who possesses ServSafe Food Protection Manager Certification.
Any agency not in compliance with the food safety training requirements will be suspended and unable to receive food from the Food Bank of WNY. Handling food safely is important in food distribution to your community. Thank you to all the agency coordinators that have participated in our food safety training mission.
ServSafe Course- for Camps, Group Homes, Shelters and Soup Kitchens
ServSafe is a program that teaches critical food safety practices that help provide safe food for your clients. The certification lasts for 5 years and is now required for member agencies functioning as a camp, group home, shelter and soup kitchen.
The Food Bank has also made food safety- related educational materials available. These resources can be downloaded here:
Food Bank of WNY Food Safety Guidelines
Hand Washing (Instructions in Spanish too)
Food Recall Information
Expiration, Sell By and Best By Dates