2018-01-10 / News

Hep A outbreak alters free dinners

For many years now, Lexington United Methodist Church has offered a free dinner to the community every Wednesday, as part of its ministry.

Those dinners will continue despite an alarming statewide outbreak of Hepatitis A – but with important changes to ensure safety, church members said.

“Because our Wednesday night meals are an important part of our ministry to those in our church and community, we are going to be making some changes to ensure the safety of ourselves and the people we minister to,” said Mary Solterman.

According to the Michigan Department of Agriculture and Rural Development, Michigan is experiencing a widespread outbreak of the Hepatitis A virus. The main areas affected are in the mid and southeast part of the state, which includes Sanilac County.

Sanilac reported five Hepatitis A cases in December, which represents 1.2 cases per 10,000 residents, according to the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services.

The disease is easily transmitted by consuming foods or beverages handled by infected persons, which means that every ill food worker situation could present a significant risk.

“Our kitchen is checked on a timely basis by the Sanilac County Health Department,” said Solterman. “We have always had a good report and we are looking at ways to improving the safety of our kitchen to make sure that we remain a safe place in which to prepare food for our guests.”

These changes include:

The Wednesday dinner will be prepared only in the church’s kitchen from now on.

Only kitchen workers will serve the food as people go through the line. This will decrease the number of hands touching the food.

Only paper products will be used for eating and drinking.

Handwashing, gloves and cleanliness will remain a top priority.

The dinner begins at 5:45 p.m. every Wednesday. It is free, but donations are appreciated.

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