IFT’s mission is to advance the science of food. As a steward and research champion for the profession, IFT makes the recruitment and training of new food scientists high priorities.
And as the world’s population grows, even more food scientists will be needed to address important food challenges such as water scarcity, climate change, waste reduction, food insecurity, transportation, longer shelf life, and improved nutritional quality. From the 1960s through the 1980s, many top food scientists entered the profession, but they are now retired or about to retire.
The technical pipeline must be filled, and IFT is committed to supporting academic programs to train new generations of food scientists.
We are all bombarded with requests for donations to charitable organizations. Have you ever made a donation to the IFT Foundation, Feeding Tomorrow? Most of Feeding Tomorrow’s activities focus on recruitment of students to food science and scholarships to support those students who have made the choice to join our profession. This year Feeding Tomorrow will award more than $100,000 in scholarships. Much of that money is raised through the Fun Run and Walk. The race at IFT15 will be held on Monday, July 13, 2015. Not a runner? Walk with me and IFT members, or support our students by purchasing an “I slept in” shirt at the Feeding Tomorrow booth. If you won’t be in Chicago this summer, I encourage you to donate online at FeedingTomorrow.org.
Among the programs that Feeding Tomorrow supports to attract high school students to food science is Food4Thought, which works with Girls Inc. to recruit girls into science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) fields such as food science. High school students participate in an immersion program to showcase various careers in food science and technology, culminating in a visit to IFT15 in Chicago and a special field trip to a food plant. Feeding Tomorrow works with corporate partners like General Mills, Kraft, and Mondelēz International to provide student members with internship opportunities.
IFT sections support these efforts by providing judging at local science fairs and by encouraging students to study food science. Sections sponsor more than 200 student awards and scholarships totaling almost $400,000. Much of these funds are raised through section Suppliers’ Expos, so your attendance at these annual events also helps students. Our divisions also support students through travel grants to attend IFT15 and numerous oral presentation and poster awards.
The IFT Student Association (IFTSA) promotes product development competitions that help students develop teamwork and technical skills. One of IFTSA’s most prestigious competitions, “Developing Solutions for Developing Countries,” encourages students to find a food science solution to a pressing food problem. This year’s “secret ingredient” is insects—a valuable alternative protein source highlighted on our FutureFood2050.com website. A new competition this year is the “IFT Global Student Innovation Challenge” sponsored by Tate & Lyle. I hope that you can find time at IFT15 to see the accomplishments of our young food scientists at these competitions.
IFT’s support for new food scientists does not end with their graduation. We offer several programs to support new professionals. Our online Career Center has been updated to make it the preferred recruitment resource for our profession. Career Center Live at the IFT annual event offers face-to-face job interviews. At IFT15 and in our online community, IFT provides networking opportunities for new professionals. Workplace issues, employment trends, and technical skills are among the topics addressed by the webcasts, online courses, and IFT15 events geared toward new professionals.
Several years ago, IFT began the LEAD360 program to provide leadership training and global networking for young food science professionals. Food science organizations identify rising stars in their own nations for this training and provide travel support. Although many of the LEAD360 activities occur at the annual meeting, LEAD360 participants collaborate online after the meeting.
IFT has developed education standards to provide assistance to colleges and universities with food science programs around the world. The IFT Higher Education Review Board reviews undergraduate curricula at 42 universities in the United States and four in Canada as well as programs in nine other nations. Which technological and “soft” skills will the food scientists of the future need? IFT has identified the ability to work in a multinational organization as a key skill for new food scientists. IFT is committed to leading food science education now and in the future.
Mary Ellen Camire, PhD, CFS,
IFT President, 2014–2015
Professor, Univ. of Maine,