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School in session for Rhode Island food producers

Food Safety classWhat do broken lightbulbs, listeria, and deli slicers have in common? Well, for one thing, they were all topics of discussion at the Food Safety for Product Development workshop, a two-night event featuring insightful instruction on how early stage food producers can take their products to the next level, and prevent some major food safety snafus before they occur.

Held during the second week of September, school truly was in session with the workshop held at the former schoolhouse that now houses Rhode Island’s first culinary startup incubator, Hope & Main.  The Rhode Island Food Policy Council (RIFPC) and Hope & Main partnered up with experts from UMass and URI to host Rhode Island’s first Food Safety for Product Development workshop geared toward early stage food producers. This program provided an opportunity to connect new food business owners with resources and training to take their products to the next level. Participants were encouraged to ask questions relevant to their specific products and to make the most of speaking with the experts on hand."Principles of Food Safety"

In addition to providing a wealth of knowledge to attendees, the workshop leaders, Amanda Kinchla (UMass), Lori Pivarnik (URI), and Nicole Richard (URI), made it a point to engage the audience rather than simply lecture, and they took the time to ensure concepts were explained well and in a thoughtful manner. Not only were they well-prepared, but they infused their presentation with high energy and well-timed comic relief – an incredibly important feature for the 6-9pm time slot!

This workshop was well received, with attendees remarking on how useful it would be to see this program held regularly for early-stage food producers. The feedback was incredibly positive about both the content as well as the spirited presentation by all three speakers, and Hope & Main’s teaching classroom provided a perfect venue.

We are grateful for the support of the Henry P. Kendall Foundation, the Rhode Island Foundation, and the van Beuren Charitable Foundation, which helped make this pilot workshop possible. Based on the feedback received, it appears there is an interest and need for more programming like this to encourage and support the food innovators building a stronger food economy in Rhode Island.


Sumana Chintapalli is Director of Communications and Outreach for RIFPC and Leo Pollock is Network Director for RIFPC