You’ve probably been hearing a lot of talk about the importance of food safety lately. At the food bank, we just held a Food Safety Training for our agencies. That’s why this month’s Agency Spotlight is not only a role model for our partnering residential programs but also a leader in food safety.
Telos, previously named Transition House, is a hospital diversion program that is part of Encompass Community Services. This organization helps people in crisis transition to their next destination in life. According to Lisa Bautista, the kitchen coordinator, Telos is a Greek word meaning the process of moving toward your perfection.
At Telos, Lisa does most of the menu planning and cooking. The program accepts around 10 clients at a time, and the kitchen is essentially the heart of the house. Around 40% of the food Lisa uses comes from Second Harvest, and most of this is fresh vegetables and produce. Lisa says that the quality of the produce is often better than what she can find in the store at an affordable price, especially the organic produce.
Lisa’s focus is nutrition. “There’re a lot of people coming through the mental health system on meds that can make them pre-diabetic or hungry,” Lisa says. “If you believe that there’s a link between what you eat and how you feel, then nutrition of food is really critical.”
More than that, Lisa is a food safety ambassador. She has a background in cooking for toddlers, a demographic for which the risk of illness is more dire. The refrigerators and freezers at Telos are organized ruthlessly, just like food safety standards suggest, with poultry and ground meats on the bottom shelves all the way up to fresh produces on the top shelves.
The cupboards are organized, and the countertops are sanitized with two different kinds of disinfectant, one for more environmentally friendly purposes. She constantly reminds the residents to wash their hands, especially before meals, because she believes it is the simplest way to prevent illness. “People are here because they’re having a crisis,” Lisa says. “The thought of getting foodborne illness or getting somebody else’s cold is the last thing on their list.”
Because of Lisa’s careful consideration for nutrition and food safety, she is able to provide healthy food from Second Harvest to clients that might not otherwise be well nourished. We applaud Lisa for her outstanding work at Telos.