NFMT Norfolk Provides ServSafe Training to Active-Duty Cooks

     Navy Food Management Team (NFMT) Norfolk graduated 24 students from a ServSafe class held this past September.

     The three-day class allows students who successfully complete the course to earn the ServSafe Food Protection Manager Certification, accredited by the American National Standards Institute and the Conference for Food Protection (ANSI-CFP).

     The program blends the latest FDA Food Code, food safety research and years of food sanitation training experience. Students learn to implement essential food safety practices and create a culture of food safety. All content and materials are based on actual job tasks identified by food service industry experts.

     NFMT Norfolk teaches the class several times a year. It is not mandatory training for Navy culinary specialists, but it provides them with a strong foundation to build their career upon, while they are in uniform and when they leave the Navy too.

     “Many Navy cooks are hired by Military Sealift Command (MSC) when they leave the service,” said Sgt. 1st Class Corrin Johnson-Rhea. “This training is required by MSC, so it’s a good idea for Sailors to take advantage of the opportunity to earn the certification while they are still on active duty.”

     She added that most civilian food service operations also require the certification. It usually costs upwards of $500 to earn the certification, so Sailors, as well as members from other services, are fortunate to have this valuable training opportunity available to them.

     Johnson-Rhea, the only Soldier assigned to NFMT, enhances the training with a variety of handouts, “war stories” of things she has experienced during her 22 years as an Army veterinary food inspection specialist, practice tests, and quizzes. She also uses a game, based on the popular game show Jeopardy, called Food Safety Showdown to help them prepare for their final exam.

     “Everyone learns differently, so I try to use as many tools as possible to maximize everyone’s capabilities,” explained Johnson-Rhea. “Students are more likely to retain what you are teaching them if you make the learning process interesting.”

     Her students seem to respond to her teaching methods. She has a 100 percent success rate in her three years of teaching the ServSafe class at NFMT.  “She really knows the material, and clearly cares about every one of her students,” said Culinary Specialist 1st Class Jeffrey Kistner, a student assigned to Commander, Destroyer Squadron (COMDESRON) 26. “Before I joined the Navy, I worked a fast food job and had to take this training. It was a two-day class instead of three, and it was very rushed. The instructor didn’t care at all if we retained any of the material. This was a completely different experience. She [Johnson-Rhea] goes out of her way to make sure she does everything within her power to ensure the entire class retains as much material as possible. Her teaching style is very effective and makes for a positive learning experience.”

     The exam that students take at the end of the class is multiple choice, just like Navy advancement exams. Johnson-Rhea offers the class tips on how to navigate through a multiple choice exam.

     “Some people don’t test well – they tend to freeze up and their mind goes blank,” explained Johnson-Rhea. “Sometimes they overthink a question, thinking it might be a ‘trick’ question because the answer seems so obvious. I encourage them to think through each possible answer, and remind them that this is subject matter that they deal with every day on the job, which is why answers sometimes seem ‘too’ obvious.”

     “This was one of the best classes I’ve ever attended, and receiving test-taking tips too was a nice bonus,” said Culinary Specialist 2nd Class Lizminacheal Barrett, from Assault Craft Unit (ACU) 2. “This class was a real eye-opener for me, especially all of the sanitation information. I also appreciated all of the information and handouts we were able to take away with us.”

By Jim Kohler, NAVSUP FLC Norfolk Office of Corporate Communications