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School concession stands facing greater scrutiny

A renewed emphasis on food safety by the Minnesota Department of Health necessitates changes to Park Rapids Schools' concession stands.

Food cannot be stored or prepared in a private home. All foods, beverages and ice must be obtained from an approved commercial source. Any food preparation or storage done off-site

must be done at a licensed food establishment.

"So it changes all hot food, cold food," Food Services Director J. T. Clark informed the Park Rapids School Board at their Nov. 20 meeting. "It has to be prepped in a commercial kitchen. It cannot be brought in. Therein lies the problem. We're working our way through that."

Any food service or concession on school grounds is required to be licensed, inspected and compliant with the Minnesota Food Code.

In 2011, the state legislature determined school concession stands are exempt from licensing and inspection if they only serve commercially prepared foods. Pre-packaged food served in their original container, like canned sodas, bagged chips or wrapped candy, are allowed. In order to serve hotdogs, hamburgers or hand-scooped ice cream, the concession stand must be licensed.

There are various ways that school concessions can be licensed.

"If the clubs want to go underneath our license, they have to follow state regulations," Clark said.

"It's just the simple fact that you don't know a product made at home."

A wrestling jamboree is the next big concession stand event, Clark noted.

"I've been talking with them. I think we have a good plan in place," he said.

Clark said he will meet with any coach, booster club, student group, etc. to discuss compliance.

In other business, the school board did the following:

• Learned that Board Chair Sherry Safratowich attained the 2017-18 President's Award from the Minnesota School Boards Association (MSBA). The distinction is given to those who complete 300 or more hours of attendance at MSBA- and National School Boards Association-sponsored meetings and activities. Safratowich will receive a certificate and pin at the MSBA Leadership Conference on Jan. 11.

• Learned that Park Rapids Community Education received approval to use Osage Community Center. "We're very excited to branch out and be in their community so they don't have to travel," said Community Ed Director Jill Dickinson.

• Approved the new hire of Aron Moses, assistant boys basketball coach; Mike Rice, assistant girls hockey coach and Jerry Munson, bus driver.

• Accepted the resignation of Mike Baumgartner as boys tennis coach and 9th grade football coach.

• Approved Superintendent Lance Bagstad's contract for 2018-2021.

• Accepted a $100 donation to the high school cross-country team from Carol Frisby and a 1996 Chevy pickup to the high school vocational training class from Phil and Tami Miller.