“I come from a developing country and I know how hard it can be for small businesses to get resources and support. I thought PFS was a great opportunity to give back and share some of the knowledge and skills that I’ve acquired over the years,” said Regina Barcena, senior manager of food safety & quality at The Hershey Company. Regina is currently volunteering with Partners in Food Solutions on a HACCP implementation project in Ghana.
PFS: Please tell us a little about your background.
RB: I am originally from Mexico and first started at Hershey as an intern there. I moved to our corporate office in Pennsylvania ten years ago and have had a few different positions including quality specialist, sanitation supervisor and quality engineer. I am currently the senior manager of food safety & quality at our Stuart Draft Plant.
PFS: Why did you decide to get involved with Partners in Food Solutions?
RB: I come from a developing country and I know how hard it can be for small businesses to get resources and support. I thought PFS was a great opportunity to give back and share some of the knowledge and skills that I’ve acquired over the years.
PFS: What has been the most rewarding thing about being a PFS volunteer for you?
RB: In general, the fact that I am able to improve the food safety culture of a developing country is very rewarding. Every year, there are millions of cases of foodborne illnesses, especially in low and middle-income countries. As a PFS volunteer, I delivered a good manufacturing practices training through video and demonstrated things like record-keeping and good hygiene practices to a client. I feel the work done by myself and the rest of the volunteers is raising food safety awareness and we’ve been able to reduce cases of foodborne illnesses.
PFS: Tell me more about the HACCP project you’re currently working on?
RB: The primary objective of the project is to develop a HACCP plan that will lead to an International Quality Certification. Gaining the additional certification will allow them to sell products in other countries and therefore increase their profits. It has been a very rewarding experience to work with volunteers from other companies like General Mills and Cargill. When we get together to help our client we are one team of experts, creating value for the final consumer. I consider this a perfect opportunity to be able to share my knowledge, learn from other experts and help people from other cultures and countries. Our next step is to train their 34 employees through a conference call and I am really excited to be part of this transformation.
PFS: What skills have you used/developed as a PFS volunteer?
RB: I’ve learned to be a partner. When I first joined PFS, I thought we were going to take on more of a consultant role. But, after the first meeting, I realized that I was going to learn just as much from them as they were from me. Volunteering with PFS and supporting African companies helped me realize that you can make big changes with small programs. I’ve been able to implement some of those learnings in my day job, and the learning and results have been fantastic.
PFS: How does the fact that Hershey supports PFS make you feel?
RB: Making moments of goodness is in Hershey’s DNA. I am grateful to work for a company that supports programs like PFS and allows me to develop my career in a global environment while at the same time supporting those in need.