Proper handling on the farm is essential to food safety. Fruit and vegetable growers looking to sell directly to wholesalers or institutions are facing pressure to achieve Good Agricultural Practices (GAP) certification. ISU Extension and Outreach helps producers navigate the requirements of GAP certification and on-farm inspections to expand their market share.
Other highlights from Howard, Winneshiek, Allamakee, Chickasaw, Fayette and Clayton counties:
- Good Agricultural Practices (PDF)
By coordinating training on Good Agricultural Practices (GAP) and field trips for food producers that included "mock inspections," 13 farms were certified in GAP through the United States Department of Agriculture. The implementation of safe production and handling methods of produce on the farm reduces the risk of microbial contamination and foodborne illness.
- Northeast Iowa Food and Farm Coalition
By tracking the purchases of institutions in the region, the ISU Extension and Outreach led Northeast Iowa Food and Farm Coalition has revealed more than $832,000 in local food purchases by schools, colleges and grocery stores, and farmers report more than $1.5 million in local food sales in 2009-10.
- Iowa Farm to School Chapter
The northeast Iowa Farm to School Chapter, coordinated by ISU Extension and Outreach and Luther College, spearheads efforts in school districts across multiple counties that include five components: teacher training, cross-age teaching, farmer visits, food service training and school gardens. Highlights from 2011 include: 16 school districts submitted school wellness action plans for the 2011-12 school year; 14 schools have school gardens; and 12 school districts participated in Home Grown School Lunch Week.
- Food Safety Training
ISU Extension and Outreach facilitates food safety training, helping those working in schools, colleges, restaurants, care centers and other foodservice establishments to adopt safe food handling practices and reduce the incidence of foodborne illness. ISU Extension nutrition and health specialists trained 32 school food service staff from nine schools in the area. At the end of the ServSafe® training, 97 percent of the participants passed a test to certify them for five years. An additional two-hour SafeFood training included 28 participants from five schools.
- School Environments
More than 200 youth from 18 schools are working together and impacting school environments in the area. School Wellness teams are forming and engaging youth in conversation and action around system and policy change for healthier food and fitness environments.
- For more information, visit: Howard, Winneshiek, Allamakee, Chickasaw, Fayette and Clayton county webpages.