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Overcoming Food Safety Educational Barriers within NY Plain Communities


Obj. 1: Develop culturally-appropriate food safety learning tools in conjunction with a grower advisory groupA state-wide educational team of Cornell Cooperative Extension specialists along with a grower advisory group will develop sets of food safety learning tools to overcome barriers with understanding farm food safety. The learning tools (pen and paper activity sheets, practice outlines, and diagrams) would cover principles and standard operating procedures (SOPs) consistent with the FSMA PSR and Good Agricultural Practices (GAPs). A small group of Plain growers (3-5) will serve in a project advisory group in the creation of the food safety learning tools. It is critical that we work within the cultural norms while providing information that is easily understood by the recipients based on their level of English literacy and scientific background.The learning tools would have several versions designed to meet the cultural considerations of specific Amish and Mennonite communities found across the state. Unlike other states such as PA and KY with Plain sect communities who have more readily embraced regulatory food safety programs for business reasons, our New York State (NYS) growers appear to be much more hesitant. Educators and Plain growers in NYS cite varying barriers to lack of food safety "buy-in", including misunderstandings and less buyer pressure to implement food safety practices (C. Stewart-Courtens, J. Stoltzfus, and P. Vjayakumar, Personal Communication). Delivery of educational sessions will be mainly focused on the more conservative Plain communities that prefer non-technological approaches, small group interactions, and on-farm visits. Written resources, such as SOPs, will be created that will be made with simple straightforward language, using hand drawn diagrams, and a to-the-point format, making the pages easier to read and comprehend for young workers, and English learners and second language audiences. See Appendix for a food safety tool example.Obj. 2: Provide on-farm and auction technical assistance to support food safety practice adoption on individual farmsWe will conduct frequent farm and auction visits with Plain growers associated with regional auctions to assess food safety needs, provide personalized farm food safety improvement recommendations, and support on-going follow-through with SOPs and practices presented in Obj. 1. In-person, on-farm visits with community members will be essential in creating and maintaining relationships within expanding and new auction communities. The project team will leverage existing relationships with growers and strive to reach new audiences in newly-formed districts.Obj. 3: Deliver adapted Produce Safety Alliance Grower Trainings for auction communities subject to the FSMA PSRFollowing our individual outreach with farms (Obj. 2), we will identify Plain communities in which covered farm are in need of formal FSMA PSR trainings. We will offer two trainings, one in Eastern NY and another in Western NY, using the Penn State Plain Sect FSMA resources (see Previous Work) to deliver the training without technology.Obj. 4: Offer a professional development workshop for educators to facilitate peer-to-peer sharing of extension strategies when working with the Plain growersIn Year 2 of our project, we will host a virtual workshop in which extension educators from states with Plain populations will share their experiences working with Plain growers. We will share our successes and challenges promoting food safety practices within auction communities in NYS.

Pashow, Lindsey
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