At this year’s IFT Annual Meeting + Food Expo® in Orlando, I had the opportunity to briefly outline IFT’s goals for the coming year. In this, my first President’s Message, I want to expand the outline to discuss IFT member and staff involvement in the implementation and achievement of these important goals.

The Executive Committee has identified the following areas of focus for 2006–07—Membership, Continuing Education, General Communications, and Marketing & Strategic Alliances. The goals reflecting these areas are as follows:

Establish the structural framework for IFT to develop and deliver high-quality continuing education programs in response to the defined needs of the membership. Although IFT has offered continuing education programs for many years and the programs have responded to the needs of many members, it seems evident that continuing education should be an even more valuable resource for members and nonmembers.

Stabilize the current IFT membership decline and create an appropriate environment for membership recruitment and retention, while enhancing membership satisfaction. IFT has experienced a modest but continuous decline in membership for several years. We believe this trend can be addressed and essentially reversed by learning more about the factors influencing membership recruitment and retention and by more actively involving our Division and Regional Section members in a dynamic membership recruitment campaign.

Mobilize the resources of IFT in becoming proactive in communication of food science information to multiple audiences. For food science and IFT to gain greater visibility among audiences outside our own circle, we will need to develop compelling messages that will resonate with targeted audiences. Our members and staff will participate in a proactive public education effort to accomplish this.

Increase the visibility and understanding of the food science profession among audiences critical to the future of IFT through an organized marketing program. The programs and materials developed for teachers, counselors, students, and parents in collaboration with Discovery Education are wonderful examples of the potential for delivery of a message that will be seen, heard, and comprehended by audiences outside our immediate circle. The Discovery Education program represents a model for future programs to gain even greater visibility for the food science profession and IFT among a variety of audiences, including regulatory agencies, global organizations, the food industry, the media, consumer groups, and consumers.

Strengthen strategic alliances among organizations with interests in food and the role of food science in the food system. IFT’s mission and many of our long-range goals can be achieved most effectively and efficiently through collaborative relationships with other organizations. Although IFT has been active in pursuing alliances with other organizations, renewed efforts are needed to identify areas where strategic alliances would be beneficial. Through Divisions and Regional Sections, we can engage the IFT membership in identifying and prioritizing these opportunities.

The Executive Committee has also been actively engaged in development of an Annual Operating Plan and a Committee Charges Overview document. These documents are organizational road maps for IFT members and staff that tie directly to the 2006–07 IFT budget. They include a new committee structure for continuing education programs for selection of timely continuing education course topics; development of effective messages about food science communicated to a variety of audiences outside of IFT; and development of more effective approaches for communicating the role of food science to our colleagues in industry and regulatory, policy, and other governmental agencies. Finally, several key committees and IFT staff will be involved in identifying more effective approaches to translate food science into applications for use by our own members.

This year should be an exciting one for all IFT members. Each member should take the initiative to become engaged in some aspect of IFT activity. Divisions and Regional Sections provide the most immediate avenue for this direct involvement. All IFT members have a voice in the organization. Make the choice to step forward and become more involved.

by Dennis R. Heldman,
IFT President, 2006–07
President, Heldman Associates, Weston, Fla.
[email protected]