Project Summary

How do you train over 3,500 people each year in food sanitation when contending with a twenty percent reduction in staff? The Albuquerque Area Indian Health Service, Division of Environmental Health Services’ solution to this problem is an online training designed to be efficient and culturally-relevant, involving multiple Federal and Tribal partners.

Project Team

Team Members
Robert Bates, IHS
Tom Candelaria, IHS
Jeff Dickson, IHS
Debra Grabowski, IHS
Katie Hubbard, IHS

Project Details

Recognizing the immense demand for food handler certification, conducting over 100 food sanitations trainings annually, theAlbuquerque Area Indian Health Service (AAIHS), Division of Environmental Health Services (DEHS) didn’t have an option of hiring new staff.  In fact, they experienced a 20 percent drop in staff while high demand for their Food Handler Certification persisted.  To address the demand while not reducing services, the AAIHS and DEHS staff explored alternative methods for delivering services to tribal customers. In doing so, the Online Food Handler Training was developed.

The Online Food Handler Training provides food sanitation training in a format that is convenient for customers while also being low maintenance for DEHS staff.  Adult-learning techniques and cultural considerations were incorporated so the message would resonate with tribal customers, potentially leading to increased knowledge and improvements in food safety in tribal facilities.  For example the training scenarios involve workers in the fictional restaurant to illustrate food sanitation concepts in a way that is more relatable for food service workers; the names of the restaurant employees are based on bacteria and viruses that cause food borne illness.  The Online Food Handler Training application is capable of collecting feedback from users, allowing services to be continually improved.  While in-person trainings will continue to be provided, a conservative estimate is the Online Food Handler Training will be utilized by at least 10-20% of trainees, reducing the number of classroom trainings conducted by staff, ultimately reducing cost for the Department of Health and Human Services.

Additional Information


HHS Innovates is one of the ways we are building an innovative culture at the Department of Health and Human Services. HHS Innovates is a contest that recognizes and rewards action taken on good ideas. To date, HHS employees have submitted nominations of innovations for nearly 500 exciting new staff-driven innovative projects, and our employees have cast over 60,000 votes to select 42 finalists over seven rounds. This project is one of the finalists of HHS Innovates. Learn more about HHS Innovates.