Source: UNIVERSITY OF ILLINOIS submitted to
DEVELOPMENT OF A VIRTUAL FOOD SAFETY EDUCATION AND OUTREACH PLATFORM FOR SMALL AND VERY SMALL FARMS IN ILLINOIS
Sponsoring Institution
National Institute of Food and Agriculture
Project Status
NEW
Funding Source
Reporting Frequency
Annual
Accession No.
1023625
Grant No.
2020-70020-33033
Project No.
ILLN-698-615
Proposal No.
2020-03853
Multistate No.
(N/A)
Program Code
A4182
Project Start Date
Sep 1, 2020
Project End Date
Aug 31, 2022
Grant Year
2020
Project Director
Banerjee, P.
Recipient Organization
UNIVERSITY OF ILLINOIS
2001 S. Lincoln Ave.
URBANA,IL 61801
Performing Department
Food Science & Human Nutrition
Non Technical Summary
The overall goal of this project is to deliver effective food safety training to beginning farmers, mid-sized farms, small fresh fruit and vegetable merchant wholesalers, and socially disadvantaged farmers in Illinois. The implementation of Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA) food safety guidelines affect these target audiences. The educational needs for these clienteles need to be reinforced and retooled for target-audience specific education and outreach. To achieve this, we are proposing to develop FSMA-related food safety training, education, Extension, and outreach program in the state of Illinois by developing training contents that including the basics of developing a Food Safety Plan; the role of Good Agricultural Practices in improving food safety; basics of FSMA Produce Safety Regulations (PSR) and compliance with PSR; overview of pre- and post-harvest water sampling and analysis; and soil testing and safe soil amendments. We will also create a Virtual Food Safety Outreach Platform at Illinois (VFSOPI) that is capable of delivering training content. In addition, we will develop train-the-trainer content and onsite training workshops for growers and producers. Our project will increase the knowledge and resource on several FSMA topics for small and very-small underserved growers and Extension agents who are at the forefront of educating the farmers and growers across the state of Illinois and beyond.
Animal Health Component
0%
Research Effort Categories
Basic
(N/A)
Applied
(N/A)
Developmental
(N/A)
Classification

Knowledge Area (KA)Subject of Investigation (SOI)Field of Science (FOS)Percent
7115010302050%
7125010302050%
Goals / Objectives
The overall goal of this project is to deliver customized training to beginning farmers, mid-sized farms, small fresh fruit and vegetable merchant wholesalers, and socially disadvantaged farmers in Illinois. To achieve this, we are proposing to develop an FSMA-related food safety training, education, Extension, and outreach program in the state of Illinois. Our target audience for the project will be small to mid-size farms who are underserved, such as beginning, women, specialty crops, Amish/Mennonite, refugees (Burmese and Bhutanese), and urban farmers.
Project Methods
We are proposing to develop an FSMA-related food safety training, education, Extension, and outreach program in the state of Illinois. We will develop both onsite and online educational content delivery platforms. In addition to the traditional face-to-face, on-site training program, our proposed online platform, Virtual Food Safety Outreach Platform at Illinois (VFSOPI), will enable engaging small and very-small underserved growers and Extension agents who are in the forefront of educating farmers and growers across the state of Illinois. This virtual education/outreach platform will have the capability to integrate new knowledge to it dynamically. Initially, we will develop several online modules focusing on FSMA PSR, best practices of water sampling and testing (pre- and post-harvest), soil testing and safe soil amendments (with special focus to urban agriculture), and developing realistic food safety plans (FSPs). These contents can be accessed by a dedicated mobile device application (VFSOPI "App") or from any device with the ability to connect to the internet. The online content of the VFSOPI can be integrated on the UIUC Extension website. We will develop a target audience specific food safety educational content, which will be disseminated via onsite workshops for stakeholders as well as for the Extension agents. Building upon existing statewide training on PSR, this project will engage a multi-disciplinary team of the UIUC, UIUC Extension, and the Center for Innovation in Teaching & Learning (CITL) to develop, deliver, and evaluate a customized food safety education and outreach program for Extension agents and for small and very-small underserved growers across the state of Illinois.Objective 1: Developing training contents that include the followings (in this grant cycle): i) The basics of developing a Food Safety Plan (FSP); ii) The role of Good Agricultural Practices (GAPs) in improving food safety; iii) Basics of FSMA Produce Safety Regulations (PSR) and compliance with PSR; iv) Overview of pre- and post-harvest water sampling and analysis; and v) Soil testing and safe soil amendments.Objective 2: Creation of a Virtual Food Safety Outreach Platform at Illinois (VFSOPI) that is capable of storing and delivering training content developed under Objective 1. The content (easy to read technical information, lecture videos, short quizzes, just in time (JIT) information, etc.) on this platform will be available readily or on-demand basis.Objective 3: Developing train-the-trainer content to accompany grower training content.Objective 4: Organizing onsite training workshops for growers and producers.

Progress 09/01/20 to 08/31/21

Outputs
Target Audience:The target audience for the projectincludes small-size to mid-size farms that are underserved (which includes minority groups such as Hispanics and African-Americans), such as beginning, women, specialty crop, Amish/Mennonite, refugees (Burmese and Bhutanese), and urban farmers. We have made connections with these groups in Illinois during the reporting period by establishing collaboration with the Illinois Farm Bureau. Due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, the in-person outreach activities were severely impacted during the reporting period. Changes/Problems:The COVID-19 pandemic posed a major challenge to accomplishing the goals that required in-person interactions. It was impossible to arrange in-person workshops due to Federal, State, and local public health advisories. Moreover, a significant portion of our target audience, who are socially disadvantaged farmers in Illinois, has limited access to reliable internet services. So, we decided not to conduct remote/Zoom training sessions during the reporting period, as that would have precluded this segment of our target audience from attending those remote sessions. We hope that as the pandemic situation gets better in the next reporting cycle, we should be able to arrange in-person workshops as planned in the original proposal. What opportunities for training and professional development has the project provided?This project has provided opportunities to increase the number of FSMA Produce Safety Alliance (PSA) certified trainers (resulting in four additional PSA trainers) within the Illinois Extension system. How have the results been disseminated to communities of interest?Due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, the in-person outreach activities for this project were severely impacted during the reporting period. However, through our community collaborators, we have established a recruitment strategy to recruit small to mid-size farmers who are underserved (which includes minority groups such as Hispanics and African-Americans), such as beginning, women, specialty crop, Amish/Mennonite, refugees (Burmese and Bhutanese), and urban farmers. Our stakeholders will be the recipients of our FSMA training (in-person workshop) and will receive information on relevant food safety practices by paper-based documents/flyers and web-based content. What do you plan to do during the next reporting period to accomplish the goals?We will continue developing target audience-specific food safety educational content, which will be disseminated via onsite workshops for stakeholders as well as for Extension agents. These can be accessed by a dedicated VFSOPI website or from any device with the ability to connect to the internet. We plan to conduct hands-on water and soil sampling demonstrations at the in-person workshops that will benefit the attendees. We will include hands-on demonstrations for water and soil sampling and testing under our existing Objective 4 (Task 4).

Impacts
What was accomplished under these goals? During the reporting period, we have developed customized training content on the following topics:(i) Basics of Developing a Food Safety Plan (FSP); (ii) Role of Good Agricultural Practices (GAPs) in Improving Food Safety; (iii) Basics of FSMA Produce Safety Regulations (PSR) and Compliance with PSR; and (iv) Overview of Pre- and Post-Harvest Water Sampling and Analysis. In addition, a module on Soil Testing and Safe Soil Amendments is under development. A Virtual Food Safety Outreach Platform at Illinois (VFSOPI) that is capable of storing and delivering training content developed is under construction during the reporting period.

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