Food Safety Knowledge, Training and Practice among Food Pantry Volunteers in Franklin County, OH

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The Ohio State University

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Food insecurity is a persistent issue in the United States, and especially in Ohio where rates of food insecurity and very low food security are above the national average. Food distribution organizations (FDOs), commonly known as food banks and food pantries, are charitable organizations that play an important part in getting food into the hands of the food insecure. FDOs are subject to the same food safety laws and regulations as food retailers or restaurants despite having significant differences in their operational structures, namely the utilization of volunteers. Previous research in North Carolina has studied food safety in FDOs, and this study aimed to provide a snapshot of practices in Central Ohio. Qualitative data analysis was used to examine how utilization of volunteer workers may affect the food safety environment in food pantries. Results show that pantries rely on a system of 'trickle-down' knowledge in order to ensure food safety. Additionally, operational changes made in food pantries in response to the Covid-19 pandemic were explored and some challenges with new drive-up service models are described.



food safety, food pantry, food insecurity, food bank, volunteer