Submitted by FCSS
Col. John “Hannibal” Smith said it best on TV’s “The A-Team” when he said, “I love it when a plan comes together.” Well, there’s a real “A-Team” in southern Alberta, which consists of two integral agencies in the region — Family and Community Support Services (FCSS) and Alberta Health Services (AHS).
There are award-winning food safety videos in Low German available on FCSS’ YouTube channel and on the FCSS website. The videos are reason for FCSS and AHS to celebrate, as the two agencies won an Environmental Health Foundation of Canada Award and two Canadian Institute of Public Health Inspectors in Alberta awards.
“The award is for our LGSM Food Safety Education Program and videos and comes with a $500 prize,” said Michel Gervais, public health inspector and education co-ordinator with Environmental Public Health and Lethbridge Community Health. One suggestion is to use the award funding for more LGSM resources such as a dental video or resources.
Gervais explained AHS was contacted by the Taber and District Community Adult Learning (TDCALA) to develop a Low German food safety course, but at that time, the agency didn’t have the capability to work on the project. It was after that connection, Gervais said AHS worked on a course for a year with AHS staff to teach the course in Low-German.
“So far we’ve offered three courses in Barons and Taber and there’s been 44 students that have taken the course,” said Gervais.
Trudy Dyck, from Taber Community Health, said the course offers students a provincial certificate with the completion of the course — which allows students to work in restaurants or offers them the minimum requirement for education, as far as food safety goes, to open up their own restaurant.
“It’s a real door opener. For most of them, they haven’t really obtained any certificates in anything, so it’s quite an uplifting thing for them — in that, they obtain a certificate they can be really proud of and it’s good for their self esteem,” said Dyck.
According to Dyck, she and Tina Fielding from Lethbridge Community Health both speak Low German — which is very much an oral language and resources are hard to obtain. “The stuff we were teaching was really specific to English language.”
For example words such as bacteria, virus, pathogen, food safety danger zone are all very specific words that don’t necessarily translate into Low German, Dyck noted.
“We had to be really descriptive with the language. Part of the course was teaching them the content, but also trying to familiarize them with the words in English. At the end of it, they had to do an exam that’s 50 questions — multiple choice, which a lot of these students haven’t written a test to that extent. What we did was we read it in English and also in Low German, so it was an oral exam. There was a lot of stuff that goes into this course. Normally, it’s a one-day course if it’s in English. For us, we did it in two days and it pretty much used up the entire time. It was very involved and we’re really proud of the students that have taken it,” Dyck explained.
Fielding added it is indeed helpful to have the videos in Low German when presenting the course. “Because it’s less we have to know on the spot. Having these videos ready made teaching the course a lot easier,” she said.
Fielding said the videos can also be shared via the internet and through file-sharing apps.
“It’s being viewed in Bolivia, Belize, Mexico, Paraguay, and here in Canada. We’re just not teaching it to these ladies in the classroom, they’re able to then take WhatsApp and send the link out and they’re able to share it with other people in the communities. It’s far reaching and that’s fantastic,” said Fielding.
Gervais added the videos were a multi-agency approach. “AHS provided the food handling expertise and also the language expertise. FCSS provided the money for the videos, which was critical, as well as the videographer. The Southern Alberta Ethnic Association provided the venue for the video free-of-charge, which was critical to get a kitchen, so we could make the videos in.”
AHS Public Health Inspector Theron White said the videos highlight the ability to address gaps that might have previously been missed for populations within the communities. “And work with those populations and provide healthcare and community services where they didn’t exist before.”
Zakk Morrison from FCSS believes in a collaborative approach. “It’s great when we can come together as agencies to address a need within the community,” he added.
“It was great working with the AHS team to create an innovative way to disseminate information to a hard to reach population.”
Morrison noted this initiative is another example of FCSS applying a collaborative approach to reach residents in the FCSS region, which has a prevention-based mandate to be innovative and creative.
For more info contact Trudy at 403-330-7552 or Tina at 403-388-6671.