ONLY ON SUNRISE: ServSafe dishes out skills for families

Eau Claire, WI (WEAU) - You've probably eaten out at a restaurant or two in your lifetime.. But have you thought about what it takes to become properly certified in handling food?

"98% of our families are living in poverty because of their lower literacy skills,” says Barb Nelson, Coordinator of Family Literacy.

Since 1989, the Family Literacy program has touched the lives of families in the Chippewa Valley.

Nelson explains, "The family literacy program is for parents who have children school age or younger and have a literacy need. Many of them are immigrant families that came to the United States and are learning English now."

Thanks to an online program called Servsafe, these adults can learn how to handle food properly in 8 weeks and become certified.

"The food handler’s certification is needed at any restaurant, nursing home, hospital gas stations. They should have at least one person certified,” says Marge Beebe of Family Literacy.

That means it’s easier to find a job. So they got the chance to serve a meal at Community Table.

While students learn how to properly handle food, they also have the opportunity to learn more vocabulary while chopping. The program teams up with the UW-Extension to teach skills that they can be used on a daily basis especially language.

"How to say to your manager something is not right or I don't know what to do. Just like if we went to another country and said where is the bathroom?" says Nancy Coffey, Nutritionist with UW-Extension

"You see them grow and develop their skills. They come to school because they want to, not because they have to,” explains Beebe.

Many are balancing work, school and a family all to better themselves.

"They're developing skills as well as learning a skill to be more self-sufficient,” says Coffey.

I tried to even have a chopping duel with one student but clearly failed. Yet, its skills like these that can really pay off in the restaurant industry.

"We have one woman who completed Servsafe 2 years ago and she and her husband have opened a restaurant,” says Nelson.

"They're able to learn Servsafe and be hired more easily,” says Coffey.