By Kathryn Kavanagh

A global pandemic, fragile supply chains, and rising food prices may sound all doom and gloom, but they’ve also sparked a new wave of interest in local food, with small-scale growers and processors busier than ever growing and providing food for their communities. Food safety is a top priority, as integrating best practices is good for both business and consumers, making sure the food on their plates is tasty and safe. The Local Food Safety Collaborative (LFSC), a cooperative agreement with the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and National Farmers Union, is excited to announce another year of food safety education and outreach to help support local food producers.

LFSC is proud to partner with organizations across the country including Auburn University, Carolina Farm Stewardship Association, The Produce Safety Alliance, Keep Growing Detroit, Kentucky Horticulture Council, Montana Farmers Union, Tilth Alliance, and The United Christian Community Association (TUCCA) to provide food safety education, training, and technical assistance. These organizations use their regional expertise to address the needs of small-scale, diversified, sustainable, organic, and identity-preserved growers and processors. In turn, building food safety knowledge helps producers meet Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA) requirements, thus strengthening their ability to engage with markets and ensuring a safer food supply.

This year’s work will be as diverse and robust as the communities our project partners aim to serve. From workshops and on-farm field days to one-on-one technical assistance and developing educational resources and practical tools, LFSC is dedicated to helping local food producers who have a unique place within FSMA regulations not only understand these rules, but also integrate best practices into their operations. The “collaborative” of Local Food Safety Collaborative is front and center, with producers acting as peer-to-peer educators sharing real-world experiences, making their voices and needs heard through listening sessions, and providing their input on resources that make sense for their operation type, scale, and culture. You’ll also find project partners working with university extensions, Departments of Agriculture, and other community-based organizations to make sure we’re not only reaching small-scale producers, but also connecting them to the best help for their needs and creating a culture of food safety from farm to fork, seed to spoon.

To learn more about LFSC, visit the Local Food Safety Collaborative website. For some excellent resources, check out the Food Safety Resource Clearinghouse for a curated source of food safety guides, factsheets, templates, and more. And don’t forget to follow LFSC on Facebook and Twitter for updates on events and the latest news!

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