NJMEP awarded nearly $1M grant to offer food training to MEP National Network

The New Jersey Manufacturing Extension Program announced Tuesday it has been awarded a nearly $1 million grant to create a food training platform for the Manufacturing Extension Partnership National Network.

File photo
John Kennedy of the New Jersey Manufacturing Extension Program.

The $992,050 grant was provided by the U.S. Department of Commerce National Institute of Standards and Technology Hollings Manufacturing Extension Partnership.

The grant will allow NJMEP to assist the MEPNN in creating the platform so that MEP Centers can deliver services to food manufacturers throughout the USA and Puerto Rico.

It will also allow NJMEP and MEPNN to build regional hubs in five areas where MEP Center leaders have expressed interest and coordinated growth in food manufacturing. The hubs will offer support to other regional MEP Centers where they can receive sales support; have access to tools and resources including assessments, training materials and implementation resources; and serve as a food safety training center.

“We are excited to expand our work nationally with other MEP Centers and appreciate that NIST MEP has seen the great importance of engagements with food manufacturers on a national scale,” John W. Kennedy, CEO of NJMEP, said. “Our services address manufacturing priorities through the creation and use of tools and resources that provide food manufacturing leaders with a clear roadmap and actions.”

Training, which will improve the competitiveness of industries in the regions served by MEP Centers, will include one curriculum created by NJMEP and one through the County College of Morris, NJMEP said.

“It addresses the quality, safety and efficiency needs of food manufacturers; expands MEP Center market share in food manufacturing; and promotes other MEP Center core product and service lines that increase the economic vitality of the food manufacturing supply chain,” Robert Salamone, director of vertical engagements, NJMEP, said. “These centers will then be ready to effectively engage with food manufacturers within their states.”

NJMEP will also scale the new U.S. Department of Labor-approved Food Production Safety Technician apprenticeship to the more than 1,100 food manufacturers throughout New Jersey. This program focuses on food manufacturing, process standards, quality control and food production compliance.