Millions of those who receive nutrition assistance from the federal government are children. Nothing is more important than the health and well-being of our kids and so, at USDA, we are working to ensure that kids are being served safe, high quality meals.
To emphasize this priority, Secretary Vilsack has just announced that Kansas State University was selected to establish the Center of Excellence for Food Safety Research in Child Nutrition Programs. Their important work will provide science-based support to improve the safety of USDA foods, particularly those served in schools and child care settings.
Children now eat as many as two meals a day at school. Which makes it clear that the school food environment plays a more vital role in kid’s health and welfare, and USDA takes that responsibility very seriously.
Located in Manhattan, Kan., the grantee has a long history of research and education related to food service management. The funding will leverage KSU’s academic experience to provide leadership on school and child care food safety research. The Center will be funded with a two-year, $1.6 million grant and will open as soon as the grant is awarded.
The Center conducts research holistically to determine how new initiatives, such as farm-to-school purchasing and school gardens, as well as emerging science, affect food safety in FNS school and child care programs. The research will offer insight into how to develop education and training opportunities for school nutrition and child care employees.
Making sure meals in schools and daycares are as safe as possible is a primary concern of USDA. To address this, the department has put a number of initiatives in place to promote food safety for our kids. Among them, FNS partners with the Agriculture Marketing Service (another USDA agency) to conduct Produce Safety University, a series of workshops on safe handling of fresh produce by school nutrition directors.
The nation’s children are our most cherished asset. By keeping them both nourished and safe, we make important strides in winning the future.
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