April 18, 2016
Following recently finalized federal food safety requirements for produce farmers and food processors, there is a critical need for targeted food safety outreach, education, and training. In fact, when Congress passed the Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA), it authorized the development of a brand-new competitive grants program specifically dedicated to providing farmers, processors, and wholesalers with the education and training needed to prepare for and adapt to new FSMA requirements.
This program – the Food Safety Outreach Program (FSOP) – received its first-time funding in fiscal year (FY) 2015 due to the advocacy of NSAC and its member organizations. The FY 2015 funding was used to develop a National Coordination Center and four Regional Centers for FSMA Training. Thanks to NSAC’s successful advocacy campaign last year, a 100% increase in FSOP funding was adopted for FY 2016, with a renewed focus on directly funding farmer training projects.
The much-anticipated FY 2016 Request for Applications (RFA), recently issued by USDA’s National Institute for Food and Agriculture (NIFA), will provide up to $4.7 million in funding for on-the-ground outreach and education programs, with a focus on funding for community-based organizations, non-governmental organizations, food hubs, farm cooperatives, extension, and other local groups.
Applications for FSOP grants are due June 2, 2016.
Successful applicants will be expected to coordinate their activities with the Regional Centers for FSMA Training.
Funding is available for three types of projects:
Up to $1.5M will be available for one-year Pilot Projects. According to the RFA, pilot project awards will:
Support the development and implementation of new and potentially high-risk, high-impact food safety education and outreach programs in local communities that address the needs of small, specialized audiences from among the various target groups, including those with cultural or language.
Project teams are encouraged to identify the specific training and education needs within their communities, and to then develop and implement food safety education and outreach programs that meet the very specific needs of those communities.
In other words, Pilot Projects will support the development and implementation of highly-customized food safety education and outreach programs where no current community programs for food safety education exist.
NIFA anticipates that:
Project Directors for Pilot Projects will have only a minimum amount of food safety education and expertise. Thus, where needed, Regional Centers will assist in providing support for Pilot Project teams by helping them identify and modify customized training curricula, by conducting train-the-trainer sessions, and by helping project teams develop mechanisms for reporting program outcomes.
Preference will be given to Pilot Projects that:
Community Outreach Projects
Up to $1.5M will also be made available for two-year Community Outreach Projects which:
Support the growth and expansion of already-existing food safety education and outreach programs currently offered in local communities. These projects will enable existing programs to broaden their scope by reaching out to a larger number of participants, or to expand the programs to new and broader audiences.
In addition, these projects will enable existing education and training curricula to be modified to ensure that they are consistent with new FSMA guidelines and that they meet the needs of expanded audiences.
Preference for these projects will be given to those that:
Finally, up to $1.7M will be made available for up to three-year-long Multi-state Education and Training Projects. Such projects will:
Support the development of multi-county, statewide, or multi-state food safety education and outreach programs. These projects will encourage collaborations among counties and states sharing common food safety concerns, even though they may not necessarily be located within the same region. These collaborating states may share very similar food safety issues, produce the same or similar types of commodities, or market their products to similar audiences.
Preference will be given to Multi-state Education and Training Projects that:
Peer Reviewers Needed
If you will not be part of an application but you have experience in farmer or small business food safety training and education efforts, consider submitting your qualifications to serve as a peer reviewer for this grant panel!
Interested panelists can send their resume to Jodi Williams, NIFA National Program Leader for Food Safety: email@example.com
NIFA has developed tip sheets that provide more detail on each of the three project types:
A webinar for potential applicants is scheduled for April 19, from 2:30-3:30 p.m. EST. You can register for the webinar here.
You can view the RFA through the above sites, or here.