There’s H.O.P.E for National Food Safety Education Month

Capriccia Thomas, Health Editor

Helping our Pioneers understand food safety, healthy food choices, and how to prevent food poisoning.

September is Food Safety Education Month, the perfect time to fill up on knowledge about food safety, how to prevent food poisoning, and learn about efforts at California State University, East Bay aimed to combat food insecurity. Learn from yesterday, live for today, and H.O.P.E. every day.

The U.S. The Department of Agriculture (USDA) defines food insecurity as a lack of consistent access to enough food for an active, healthy life. Availability and accessibility to healthy food options can be very scarce for some individuals.

There’s H.O.P.E. (Helping Our Pioneers Excel), an intervention program that serves at-risk students facing food insecurity, homelessness, and other crisis situations. The H.O.P.E. Pantry is open to students Monday through Thursday from 10 a.m. to 4 a.m.

“CSUEB students can get free groceries (fruits, veggies, meat) at [the] H.O.P.E. food pantry. It is free and easy to access at Student Health Center room 1118, make an appointment on Bay Advisor. Follow us on Instagram at @pioneersforhope. We also help students to apply for CalFresh (free money$$ for groceries),” Pioneers for H.O.P.E. states.

“It is run by students who understand what food insecurity is all about. It is non-judgemental, it is there to help any student who may just be on a real tight budget and can use some help. We all think in tough times that someone else might need more help, but by accessing the pantry we reduce the stigma associated with its use, and we can help keep the pantry open by using it,” Dr. Ryan Gamba said, Ph.D., MPH, assistant professor of Health Sciences at CSUEB.

Healthy eating does not have to be overly expensive or even complicated. According to MyPlate, eating healthy on a budget can be made easy by finding simple menus, making a plan, and shopping smart. MyPlate is a guide that helps determine your food plan, personalized to your age, height, weight, sex, and physical activity. This platform also helps with meal prepping, budgeting food plans, and kitchen prep with healthy recipes.

It’s ideal to eat meals that fill up your plate with an array of colors. Almost as if you’re consuming a rainbow. Lots of dark leafy greens, colorful fruits, a variety of proteins (soy, nuts, beans, eggs, meat, poultry), and whole grains.

Cooking and preparing meals is exciting, but it’s vital that the food is cooked and prepared properly to ensure food safety. Freshen up on all the ways you can prevent food poisoning: wash your hands, separate cooked food from fresh produce, refrigerated perishable foods, and be mindful of exposed foods from summer picnics or hot cars.

According to the CDC, most cases of food poisoning are from salmonella. There are four steps: clean, separate, cook, and that can help protect you and your family and friends from food poisoning. Food poisoning symptoms vary from mild to severe, so it’s important to know the most common indicators such as: stomach cramps, nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, fever, and upset stomach. After the contaminated food or drink is consumed, it may take a few hours or days for the symptoms to develop. If these signs develop (diarrhea, vomiting) be sure to drink plenty of fluids to prevent dehydration.

Lastly, chow down! There are many tasty ways to elevate your meals while on a budget and H.O.P.E.ful resources available to provide nutritious foods, recipes, and food safety precautions to guide you along the way to protect against food poisoning.