Montana State University

MSU Extension releases "Celebrating Safe Foods at Pow Wows" video

July 28, 2005 -- from MSU News Service

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MSU News Service
Tel: (406) 994-4571
BOZEMAN -- Colorful dancers and the rhythm of drums engage viewers in a whirl of excitement that only mean one thing: It's Pow Wow time. But the video these viewers are watching isn't about dancing, it's a new training tool that aims to help Native American entrepreneurs thrive.

The video, "Celebrating Safe Foods at Pow Wows," recently released by Montana State University Extension, uses real-world interviews and the expertise of Tribal sanitarians, Indian Health Services and MSU Extension agents to bring home food safety and sanitation strategies. The goal is to help make temporary food booths into safer, more profitable enterprises.

"Pow Wows and other celebrations are important revenue sources for food related businesses owned and operated by Native American entrepreneurs," said Lynn Paul, Montana State University Extension food and nutrition specialist.

Passionate about the role that food safety practices can play in helping small businesses succeed, Paul teamed with Tribal and IHS sanitarians and MSU Extension educators to produce a culturally appropriate training video that provides basic guidelines on six key topics: keeping hot foods hot, keeping cold foods cold, hand washing, sanitizing utensils and surfaces, buying food from approved sources and storing food safely.

Sanitarians, Extension agents, other food safety educators and Pow Wow organizers throughout Montana and the U.S. can use "Celebrating Safe Foods" as a training tool to help food safety education come to life. The video is also available for the use of food vendors, Tribal Councils, schools, community groups and individuals.

Wynona Woolf, a clinical dietitian at the Blackfeet Community Hospital in Browning showed the video to 100 food service workers during five food handlers workshops in June. Participants, who voluntarily took the workshop, included restaurant and catering business owners, food stand vendors, 4-H students and parents.

Laurie Lautt, MSU Extension FCS agent in Big Horn County, and Deb Haines, IHS field sanitarian, used the video to train groups who plan to operate temporary food stands this summer and in the future. They boosted the video's teaching power by incorporating hands-on activities like double-checking hand-washing skills with a black light and fluorescent powder.

Lautt said that some of the participants told her that much of the information was completely new to them. Others said that they would be more thoughtful about purchasing food from suppliers who operate out of the trunks of their cars. She also noted that all participants in the classes planned to purchase and use food thermometers and to be more careful about using food safe containers. The presentation also helped them understand why they can't use water from their home wells to make ice, an essential ingredient to keeping foods cold on hot summer days.

The video is available just in time to help food vendors prepare for Pow Wow season. Lautt and Haines will offer training for temporary food stand operators just prior to Crow Fair, Aug. 18-21. Participants who complete the training successfully receive a certificate to post in their food stand.

George Allen, Director of Environmental Health Services, Indian Health Service, Billings area, said that IHS environmental health staff and tribal health staff will use the video to train and certify food vendors on reservations throughout Montana and Wyoming. However, anyone can order a copy video for their own use.

"Celebrating Safe Foods at Pow Wows" is available in VHS and DVD format for $14.95. To order, call MSU Extension publications at (406) 994-3273 or e-mail

Contact: Lynn Paul, (406) 994-5702 (