Client Spotlight: Reser’s Fine Foods Cultivating the Next Generation of Food Safety Professionals
For over 70 years, Reser’s Fine Foods has been a family-owned business producing a variety of sides, salads, and desserts. With over 4,000 employees at over 14 major facilities in 8 cities across the U.S. and Mexico, Reser’s Fine Foods has expanded their reach and touched the lives of many year after year. Since 2014, Reser’s Fine Foods has been using the Alchemy Training System to empower their workforce and deliver their training for safety, food safety, quality, and employee development.
The company has a deep commitment to corporate responsibility and community outreach. Through these initiatives, they’ve become involved with the Future Farmers of America (FFA) organization. Reser’s Director of Food Safety, Laura McCready, in particular relishes in the opportunity to pay it forward and reciprocate the mentorship she received from FFA as a youth.
Future Farmers of America is a middle and high school program in the U.S. that focuses on educating and developing the next generation in agriculture. These students take courses on everything from food safety to welding. The FFA hosts a multitude of competitions every year qualifying students to participate in the National FFA Convention & Expo. Laura is on the national committee for the food science competition, so she helps choose the winner of the champion of food science award.
During this competition, students undergo a series of tests to demonstrate their food safety and quality skills. They handle a triangle test, organoleptic training, customer complaint letters, and much more. For this year’s competition, Intertek Alchemy was able to get involved and provide some real-world scenarios and photos from the Alchemy library of food safety training courses. These photos were used to create a scenario where the students played the role of a food safety auditor entering a facility to identify the food safety risks and write a corrective action on how to address them.
Laura believes this exposure to food safety and food science is important for younger generations and opens a career path many were not aware of. “I think oftentimes people know about agriculture and growing food, but they don’t know how it gets to their table,” she explained. “It’s the food science professionals that get their food to the table and it’s not a known career path. We have a shortage of people in the younger generation who understand how their food is made and how they nourish themselves.”
Laura has been in the food industry for over 20 years. She grew up in a farming family and had her own animals. She found her passion for food science in high school and participated in FFA programs herself when she was a student. Laura says the FFA helped her develop her leadership skills and find her career path, and she is thrilled to provide that same mentorship to future generations that she received.
Through Laura and Reser’s Fine Foods support of the FFA, they are helping to create the next generation of food safety professionals. Intertek Alchemy is extremely proud of the work Laura and Reser’s continue to do and are grateful for the opportunity to support the food science competition this year.