Kansas State University has been selected to establish the Center of Excellence for Food Safety Research in Child Nutrition Programs. Its purpose will be to provide science-based support to improve the safety of foods provided through the USDA Food and Nutrition Service (FNS) nutrition assistance programs, especially in schools and child-care settings.
Children are especially vulnerable to foodborne illness, and the Center of Excellence will conduct research to provide information that could help new farm-to-school and school garden programs provide safer food.
“We are excited about the opportunity to support research focused on the unique food safety aspects of our programs,” said Kevin Concannon, USDA Under Secretary for Food, Nutrition and Consumer Services.
The Center, funded with a two-year, $1.6 million grant, will initiate several studies in its first year including evaluating the status of food safety plans in schools, studying various methods of cooling food, and evaluating health inspection reports.
“Research conducted by the Center will provide important information that we can use to improve programs,” Concannon says. “This research will give the science basis for education and training programs for school nutrition and child care employees and can expand to topics such as food defense and produce safety through collaborations with other areas of Kansas State University. KSU has a long history of research and education related to foodservice management, and will offer excellent leadership for school and child care food safety research.
“We must do everything we can to ensure that kids are being served safe, high quality meals,” said Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack when he announced the selection of Kansas State.