Supporting Delaware growers to meet third party food safety trends

DOVER, Del. – Delaware fruit and vegetable growers can now receive financial support in obtaining a third party audit to verify they are following effective food safety practices. The Delaware Department of Agriculture (DDA) is extending its Food Safety Audit Cost-Share Program for growers to include any third party food safety audit, not just USDA Harmonized GAP audits. With an additional $20,000 for farmers to use to offset required audit costs, DDA wants to make sure that producers are prepared for the Food Safety Modernization Act and the Produce Safety Rule.

“Throughout the past two years, we have found fewer buyers requesting produce growers to participate in the Harmonized GAP audits that USDA provides,” said Andrea Jackson, DDA Food Products Inspection Administrator. “More farmers are being required to participate in audits such as Global Food Safety Initiative (GFSI) schemes. Any of these audits are important in helping farmers recognize preventative measures for food safety. So we want to be more inclusive of these third party audits in our cost-share program.”

Food safety audits verify that fruit and vegetables are produced, packed, handled, and stored in the safest manner possible to minimize risks of microbial food safety hazards. The Delaware Department of Agriculture’s Food Products Inspection Section will pay 80 percent of the cost of a USDA AMS or commercial third party food safety audit with a maximum reimbursement of $1,000 per year. In order to be eligible, producers must successfully complete a third party USDA AMS or commercial audit this year, prior to September 29, 2017.

Funding will be provided on a first come, first serve basis, but Delaware growers must fully complete the necessary application and forms, be able to show verification of successful audit completion, billing, and proof of payment for the audit. For questions regarding the Food Safety Audit Cost-Share Program, contact Andrea Jackson at (302) 698-4545 or via email at Andrea.Jackson@delaware.gov.
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Media Contact: Stacey Hofmann, 302-698-4542, stacey.hofmann@delaware.gov


75 schools to participate in fresh fruit, vegetable program

In the 2017-18 school year, 75 elementary schools in Delaware will receive funding to participate in the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) Fresh Fruit and Vegetable Program.  Schools were awarded funding through a competitive application process.  Each year Delaware receives a grant from USDA specifically allocated for the program. The Delaware Department of Education then must select schools to participate with priority given to schools with the highest free and reduced price enrollment.

The purpose of the program is to increase fresh fruit and fresh vegetable consumption in elementary schools that participate in the National School Lunch Program.

“This program can be an important catalyst for change in combating childhood obesity by increasing fresh fruit and vegetable consumption and encouraging healthier eating habits,” Secretary of Education Susan Bunting said.

Selected schools receive reimbursement for the cost of providing free fresh fruits and vegetables to students. These fresh fruits and vegetables must be served separately from the lunch or breakfast meal in one or more areas of the school during the official school day. Corresponding nutrition education is critical to the program’s success.

Within basic requirements, the program gives schools the flexibility to develop their own implementation plans and involve teachers and other school staff. Each school decides when, where and how to implement the program.

The Delaware Department of Education congratulates the schools that have been selected to participate in USDA’s Fresh Fruit and Vegetable Program in Delaware for SY 17-18. Please see list of selected schools here.

 

Media Contact: Alison May, alison.may@doe.k12.de.us, (302) 735-4006


Grants available for education, marketing, and research of specialty crops

DOVER — Nearly $300,000 in federal grant funding is now available for projects to help increase the competitiveness of Delaware-grown specialty crops. The Delaware Department of Agriculture is accepting applications for the Specialty Crop Block Grant Program through May 15, 2017.

The program, funded through the federal Farm Bill, covers products known as specialty crops, including fruits, vegetables, tree nuts, dried fruits, horticulture and nursery crops, including floriculture. Projects may run for one to three years. Grants are available between $5,000 and $50,000.

Applications should be submitted by agricultural producers, nonprofit organizations, government entities, for-profit companies or educational institutions based in Delaware or with a business or educational affiliation here. Funding cannot be used for field crops, such as corn and soybeans, or animal agriculture.

An informational grant workshop will be held 5 p.m. April 12 at the Delaware Department of Agriculture, 2320 South DuPont Highway, Dover.

Past Delaware projects have included research on heat-tolerant lima bean varieties, efforts to expand a community-supported agriculture program, research on edible truffle mushrooms, and marketing to promote locally grown specialty crops.

Applications are available at de.gov/scbg, or from DDA marketing specialist JoAnn Walston at 302-698-4592 or joann.walston@delaware.gov. Due to a change in the USDA Specialty Crop Block Grant cycle, applications are due a month earlier this year. Applications must be received by 4:30 p.m. on May 15.

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Media Contact: Stacey Hofmann, 302-698-4542, stacey.hofmann@delaware.gov