Strategies for Establishing a State School Food Safety Program
The nation's 119,000 schools are critical sites for preventing
foodborne illness in the United States, because 1) more than 95% of young
people aged 5�17 years are enrolled in schools, 2) schools are an ideal
setting for educating the nation's 53 million young people about food
safety, and 3) a great deal of eating takes place in school (i.e., more
than 33 million school meals are served daily, in addition to snacks,
foods brought from home, and food served at school-related events).
Because schools are the only institutions that can reach nearly all
youth, they are in a unique position to improve both the education and
health status of young people throughout the nation.
CDC has identified eight key strategies for states to adopt in
addressing food safety in schools. Following is a description of those
strategies, along with suggested action steps that states can implement in
support of the strategies.
- Monitor school food safety policies and programs at the state
Develop an inventory of all school food safety related activities,
materials, resources, and professional development opportunities
currently being used to identify gaps and areas for improvement.
- Establish and maintain dedicated program-management and
administrative-support systems at the state level.
Designate a person to coordinate state-level, food-safe school
Integrate statewide efforts to reduce and manage outbreaks of
school-related foodborne illness.
- Build effective partnerships among state-level governmental and
nongovernmental agencies and organizations.
Assemble a multidisciplinary team with representatives from the
state departments of education, health, and agriculture; state
professional organizations; industry associations; and other
nongovernmental organizations to develop strategies and a collaborative
action plan for ensuring food safety in schools.
Encourage schools to partner with local health and cooperative extension
agencies to implement food-safe school programs.
- Establish food safety policies to help local schools effectively
implement strategies to prevent foodborne illness.
Develop and disseminate sample policies and procedures for school
Develop and disseminate a sample protocol for identifying and reporting
students and staff with foodborne illness to the health department.
Develop and disseminate a model crisis response plan for foodborne
- Establish technical-assistance and resource plans that will
provide local school districts with the help they need to implement
strategies to prevent foodborne illness.
Provide appropriate resources, tools, and technical assistance
strategies to assist schools in implementing a school food safety
Develop strategies for ensuring that school bathrooms and cafeterias are
accessible, clean, safe, and well stocked during school and
Encourage schools to maintain a school environment that fosters student
and staff hand hygiene practices to prevent foodborne illness and other
- Implement health communication strategies to inform decision
makers and the public about the role of school health programs in
preventing foodborne illness.
Develop and implement a communication plan and education policies to
inform decision makers about the importance of preventing foodborne
illness in schools.
- Develop a professional development plan for school officials and
others responsible for establishing policies and programs to prevent
Encourage school staff to participate in professional
development/continuing education on school food safety.
Train local education and health agency staff on how to assess current
school food safety practices, and develop and implement an action plan
for improving food safety.
- Establish a system for evaluating and continuously improving
state and local school food safety programs.
Develop and implement a plan for measuring successful implementation
of food-safe school programs and policies at the state and local levels.
Assess existing state data on outbreak and risk of school-related
foodborne illness to establish a baseline, and then regularly monitor
efforts to increase food safety in schools.
More information about these strategies will be found in CDC�s
forthcoming Food-Safe Schools Action Guide: Using the Coordinated
School Health Framework for Foodborne Illness Prevention. This tool,
to be published in 2005, will assist school administrators, nurses,
teachers, students, and their families, as well as local health agencies
and cooperative extension programs, in establishing food-safe schools.