Tag Archives: food

Do Food Trucks Have Safe Food?

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I work in downtown St. Paul and over the last couple of years the number of food trucks has increased throughout the area at lunchtime. I see the number of people waiting in line to get food.  I look at the menu boards and think that the prices are reasonable, but I often times wonder, how clean and safe is the food that is being prepared.

Large corporations have jumped on the band wagon and are using food trucks for catering to their employees in their parking lots. This new style of catering is cheaper than paying a catering business within the company. This also keeps their employees on-site which means fewer employees are traveling to restaurants for lunch. The only drawback is that corporations may need to work with the cities they reside in because of city ordinances.  Some cities such as St. Louis Park, Bloomington, Burnsville and Lakeville have changed ordnances to resolve this issue in order for food trucks to sell in the suburbs.

I found that the Minnesota Department of Health (MDH) has a process that is quite extensive and you really have to a strategy and plan if you want to run a food truck at least 30 days in advance of construction of a truck. You also have to purchase licenses, meet NSF standards for equipment, dishwashing and hand washing facilities, water supply and liquid waste disposal plans that are not hazardous to public health.

In 2012, CBS investigated food truck safety and noted that legitimate food trucks should have a license displayed where people can see it and they need to have an inspection a minimum of one time per year. Inspectors found food temperatures to be the most common problem, but other issues could be heating lamps not working properly, melted ice cube tubs holding soft drinks spreading germs from hands onto the counter, and chemicals used for cleaning that did not have proper labeling and could potentially be mixed with food bottles. In all, even though there were minor issues, they say that none of these issues would be life threatening and that food trucks are relatively safe.

I’m not saying that there aren’t salmonella or other bacterial issues, but after researching food safety on the food trucks, I am now more inclined to purchase food on the streets next time a see a food truck.

 

 

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Hunger

When you hear the word hunger, what do you think of? If you’re like most people, you think of that empty feeling in you have in the pit of your stomach sometime between your bowl of Cheerios at 8:00 AM and your turkey sandwich at noon. But hunger has another definition. Merriam-Webster defines it as, “a strong desire for something or to do something.” For people trying to solve the problem of food insecurity in our community, it is that second definition that drives them. Providing for the immediate needs of hungry families is an absolute necessity, but solving the underlying problems that lead to food insecurity, and the problems that are a result of it, is an even bigger challenge.

Solving the problem of hunger in Minnesota will require more from each of us than buying an extra box of spaghetti at the grocery store and placing it in the bin. Knowing who in your community is at risk or currently suffers from food insecurity is a start. Reaching out to them is the next step. Compassion. Understanding. Communication. These are the things that will help eradicate the stigma that is sometimes associated with food insecurity and will allow those who need help seek it without fear of being shamed or judged in the check-out line at Cub. No one should have to be embarrassed to accept help.

The recession has pushed social services, community service providers, and our food shelves to their very limits. Visits to food shelves by Minnesota seniors has more than quadrupled since 2008 and 1 in 6 Minnesota children live in hunger. There are too many people in need and not enough resources to meet those needs. Innovative programs like Second Harvest Heartland’s Harvest To Home are helping to reduce waste by collecting fresh unsold or un-harvested fruits and vegetables from farmers and farmer’s markets and using them to feed our local, hungry neighbors. Big problems call for big thinkers and big solutions. What are you hungry for?