Do you endure sleepless nights fretting about the safety of the food you eat at restaurants? Me neither. That’s because we don’t have to.
We can rest easy in part because an innovative partnership between the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and the Association of Food and Drug Officials (AFDO) has been providing grants to local health departments and other agencies so that they can stay on top of the latest food safety training and education.
The program gives grants of $500 to $20,000 to food safety jurisdictions across the country to enhance their ability to ensure that our favorite restaurant’s food doesn’t send us to the hospital.
As the program enters its third year, more than 632 applications for funding have been received during the first two years. To date 334 (53 percent) of the applications have received awards totaling more than $950,000, with 85 percent of awards going to local jurisdictions.
Without these grants food safety at the local level would suffer dramatically. AFDO knew they wanted to take an innovative approach and use an innovative technology solution to help manage the process.
“When we proposed this project to the FDA back in 2013, we envisioned it capturing some of the innovation we were seeing in the private sector, and applying that innovation to a small government grant program,” says Art Johnstone, president of Grant Partners Inc. and project manager for the FDA-funded, AFDO administered Retail Program Standards Grant Program.
Very shortly after formalizing the partnership with the FDA , Johnstone and his team signed on with Fluxx. Along with a strong approach, a critical component to any successful grant program is the ability of the grantmaker to foster healthy relationships with its grantees. This is one of the most important factors that led AFDO to the Fluxx grants management platform.
“Fluxx allowed us to create a very streamlined application, review, and approval process, pared down to require only the most important questions and critical information,” Johnstone says.
This simple, pain-free process for applicants, and the simple reporting requirements for grantees, all completed online, allowed food safety personnel to spend more time in the field improving food safety, and minimized the administrative burden of applying for and managing these type of grants.
The Appalachian District Health Department of North Carolina, for example, loved the ease of a cloud-based system. “The grants are easy to apply for and administer because most everything is done online. This type of setup streamlines the grant process and makes it easier to monitor the progress of the grant and submit for reimbursement.”
If this happy grantee is any indication, and if other programs nurture healthy grantee relationships like this AFDO-FDA collaboration has, the same sort of success can’t be far behind.