The Yavapai County Board of Supervisors along with Yavapai County Community Health Services (YCCHS), the Verde Valley Agriculture Coalition, the Sustainable Economic Development Initiative, the Yavapai County Board of Health, YCCHS Food Safety Industry Council and the University of Arizona Cooperative Extension have been working hard over the last few months to provide a way for local restaurants and schools to purchase healthy, locally grown fruits and vegetables from farmers near you.
YCCHS worked with local retail food and agricultural stakeholders to develop new detailed guidelines that allow for the procurement of locally-grown produce. This guidance informs certified kitchen managers how they can satisfy the food code’s “approved source” requirement when receiving food grown without participation in a farm food safety certification program.
Kitchen managers will only be required to ensure that farmers have completed a comprehensive, good handling and agricultural practices curriculum (this may be satisfied by the one day course offered by the University of Arizona Cooperative Extension); and the certified kitchen manager or owner must maintain a record indicating: the item, the amount, the date harvested and harvest location, the date received and the name of the farm or responsible grower. The intent of this guidance is to increase the availability and promote the safe use of healthy, locally-grown produce in certified kitchens in Yavapai County.
“The popularity of locally-grown produce in Yavapai County inspired our department to collaborate with retail food and agricultural stakeholders and further two of our health objectives—promoting locally grown nutritious foods and preventing foodborne illness”, said Stephen Tullos, YCCHS Director. He went on to say “While there are numerous benefits to the overall public health, this collaboration has resulted in an approved method for getting the freshest food to many of our favorite places to eat.”
The new guidance provides kitchen managers with information that enables them to verify food safety practices of food grown outside of a third-party certification program. It includes a list of options that growers can provide to demonstrate their food safety practices in three areas: on-farm food safety education, planning and traceability. The guidance also includes a list of local contacts and free resources that can assist growers with their food safety planning and practices.
YCCHS engaged stakeholders in a variety of venues, to both develop and evaluate our approved source guidance. One such encounter involved the US Vets on May 8, 2015. YCCHS staff met with program staff and the kitchen manager of US Vets to review the approved source guidance. The meeting was requested by US Vets in order to understand how to ensure food safety for their plan to utilize site garden produce in their kitchen. The guidance was received favorably and received no negative comments.
Yavapai County Community Health Services looks forward to continuing our role to promote the procurement of locally-grown, fresh fruits, vegetables and tree nuts.