Recommendations to Successfully Implement “Serve Food Safely” and “The How’s and the Why’s of Classroom Food Safety”

fruit prep

Serve Food Safely (for nutrition educators and volunteer assistants)

The purpose of the “Serve Food Safely” checklist developed by University of Maryland Extension is to provide basic food safety training to any educator or volunteer assisting with Smarter Lunchroom tastings, or any healthy food tasting, in a school environment. A successful tasting depends on a lot of coordination with cafeteria staff, school faculty/staff, and possibly adult volunteers. However, volunteers and non-food service staff may not have completed ServSafe or any other food safety training. The checklist is for adult volunteers who are under the direction of someone who meets local food safety certifications, but who may need a quick overview of food safety best practices before assisting in a tasting event.  Keeping the document on one page reduces reading fatigue. Keeping the document as a pledge reflects each individual’s ethical accountability to his/herslef and is in no way an official contract.     

The National Restaurant Association’s most current ServSafe publication guides the main topics in the document. The topics reflect the activities that an adult volunteer would carry out, with a focus on hand and personal hygiene. How and when the checklist would be distributed to adult volunteers is up to the educator. The document aims to help nutrition educators and adult volunteers reduce possible risks when conducting healthy food tastings in the school environment. 

The How’s and the Why’s of Classroom Food Safety (for teachers)

The purpose of “The How’s and the Why’s of Classroom Food Safety” document (also created by University of Maryland Extension) is to assist teachers who are leading nutrition education lessons that include a tasting component in their classroom. Teachers may not hold ServSafe certification or have received any food safety training, but they should nevertheless understand basic principles of food safety before hosting a classroom tasting. This document is intended as a supplement to the “Serve Food Safely” checklist, providing supplementary information to teachers taking more of a leading role in classroom-based food handling compared to a volunteer providing assistance to a tasting being led by a nutrition educator or food service professional.

This document aims to empower teachers with the knowledge behind why safe food handling behavior is recommended and how to best implement the behavior. Reducing cross-contamination risks and being mindful of time and temperature during produce tastings was chosen in response to the popularity of produce tastings. The document aims to help teachers reduce the possible risks when conducting classroom tastings.   


Shauna Henley, University of Maryland Extension

Chrissa Carlson, University of Maryland Extension

Photo By Sandy Austin (originally posted to Flickr as Snack time again) [CC BY 2.0 (], via Wikimedia Commons