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Whether you’re only planning to serve your congregation, or you’d like to feed the local community, it’s important to know who will be working in your new kitchen

With a new kitchen comes new opportunities and new responsibilities. Who will be serving up meals for your community? Do you need to register as a food business? Do your volunteers need to go on courses before donning their hair nets? How will you keep on top of safety? While it might feel like a minefield, the easiest place to start is to decide on who will be working in your new kitchen, and its main purpose.

Calling all volunteers!
If you’re planning on a kitchen that will solely be used to make tea rounds and hot chocolates for your thirsty congregation, who will serve these refreshments? And how can you enlist volunteers to be part of your kitchen team? If you see an influx of people wanting to help – great news! But if you experience a reluctancy, you could offer an incentive, for example, making money for charity. This is always an excellent way to encourage potential volunteers, as it gives them a purpose and could even open their minds to some creative fundraising.

It’s also important to think about a rota – this way, you can take the pressure off those volunteers who can only offer a small amount of time, allowing those who want to help out more the opportunity to shine! You might also want to consider a ‘manager’ – one volunteer who is the go-to person for all things concerning the kitchen. This can be from small niggles, such as inefficient storage of the mugs, or larger issues, such as how many Cubs can safely be in the space at one time. However, if your kitchen is being used to feed the local community or you’re opening up as a café, volunteers might not be the ideal solution.

Think bigger
When it comes to opening a community cafe, a trained caterer is best placed to run it. While your congregation can still volunteer, if it is predominately used to make sandwiches to order and hot meals for many mouths, it’s a good idea to have someone professional in charge. Someone who is fully trained in food safety and preparation; and kitchen hygiene and cleaning. And someone who can help to train up your volunteers.

Currently, the law states that all staff (employees and volunteers) who handle food should be supervised, instructed and trained in food hygiene in a way appropriate for the work they do. For example, training for making tea does not require the level of training needed for serving hot meals six days a week for 50 guests. And while most people have home catering experience, with general knowledge about kitchen hygiene, most will be unaware of the rules for food safety in a commercial setting. Which is why at least one responsible leader supervising the catering should be suitably trained in safety and hygiene.

Do I need to register?
For churches running community cafés, it’s vital that you register with your local authority as a food business. However, if you only provide tea, coffee and biscuits after church meetings or for the weekly knitting night, or if you’re running a one-off event such as a BBQ for the elderly, you don’t need to register. But always practice good food hygiene, whether you are working with volunteers or staff, and whether you’re feeding the 5,000 or making five cups of coffee.

To find out more about the opportunities your kitchen can bring to your church, call Steelplan Kitchens on 0844 809 9186. We can start planning today and bringing your ideas to life

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