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Lions Club members get versed in food safety for annual chili supper

COVINGTON - The Covington Lions Club wants to show the public they are committed to food safety, so they are coming prepared to their seventh annual Chili Supper.

After the East Metro Health District said an outbreak of food-borne pathogen Salmonella Newport in Newton County could have been associated with the club's annual barbecue festival in October, the club decided it needed to learn more about food safety.

"We don't feel like it was our fault, but since we were the sponsors, we wanted to assure the public and ourselves that safety comes first in all that we do; it's a must," said Doreen Stallworth, a director of the club.

In December, one of the Lions Club members, Jim Stancil, became a ServSafe Certified member and 18 Lions members attended a food safety class in anticipation of the Lions' annual chili supper, which is scheduled from 5 to 8 p.m. Thursday at Academy Springs Park on Conyers Street in Covington.

ServSafe was developed by National Restaurant Association Educational Foundation to provide food safety training for restaurant managers and others involved in a food-related businesses, according to its Web site.

Stancil said he planned to become certified before October's barbecue cook off, but decided to take the 12-hour class immediately.

He was provided with a thick textbook and had to pass a test to become certified.

In the class, the instructor discussed temperatures, bacteria and viruses, sanitizers and information about reheating and cross-contamination, he said.

"Imagine everything you do in the kitchen at home and multiply it by 10 or 20," he said. "It was a lot of information, but I've been around food services my entire life, so it wasn't that difficult. Anyone with a basic knowledge of food services would do fine."

Also in December, 18 Lions Club members took a class to receive a certificate of attendance from ServSafe.

An instructor from ServSafe came to the Lions Club Pavilion at Academy Springs Park to give a four-hour class that discussed a few of the same ideas from Stancil's class.

"They talked about time and temperature of food, washing of hands ... serving poultry, beef or pork," said Earl Stallworth, one of the members who took the four-hour class. "It was really informative ... and people were really enthusiastic about learning it."

Stallworth said she hopes residents come out to Thursday's event and recognize the hard work from the Lions Club members.

"It's a time for people to get together and help the Lions with their charities," she said. "This is a work club, not a social club."

The money collected at the chili supper by the Lions Club, which is a nonprofit organization, will go toward its various charities that help the blind and provide eye exams for children.

The Lions Club also will hold its annual chicken BBQ in April, a Mule Camp Shoot Out in May and Sherman's Last Burning Fall Festival and Barbecue Cook Off in October to raise money for its charities.

Michelle Floyd can be reached at michelle.floyd@newtoncitizen.com.