How are we going to feed a growing global population expected to exceed nine billion in the next 30 years? It’s a question that scientists, environmentalists, business leaders, economists, politicians, and countless others grapple with every day.
The science of food community is on the front lines of those working to answer that question. It is our scientific breakthroughs, groundbreaking innovations, enhanced food safety protocols, and supply chain optimizations that are among the many key contributors to the development and application of safe, nutritious, and sustainable food for all. While the work of those currently in the field is mission critical, IFT’s Feeding Tomorrow Foundation believes the next generation of science of food professionals is equally important.
Throughout the past year, Feeding Tomorrow remained committed to attracting, supporting, and celebrating future food scientists and innovators who will undoubtedly be tasked with solving the immense global food system challenges that lie before us. Ensuring the foundation’s efforts were both impactful and accessible and advancing work aligned with its three strategic promises—Motivate, Support, and Leverage—were essential elements of this year’s activities.
One of Feeding Tomorrow’s proudest accomplishments this year fell under its Support promise. The foundation has been offering a variety of scholarship opportunities for students pursuing degrees in science of food disciplines for more than three decades. Despite the impact of this program, we recognized a need to identify barriers preventing students from underrepresented groups from applying and to determine if changes could be made to create a more inclusive and equitable program. A scholarship team composed of Feeding Tomorrow board members and facilitated by IFT staff was assembled in 2021. Taking a data-driven approach, the team examined the current scholarship portfolio and defined opportunities for improvement. New scholarship opportunities and criteria that focused on expanding eligibility and making the application process more accessible were launched earlier this year. As a result, 59 academic scholarships totaling $109,000 were awarded to a broader range of students than ever before.
This year, Feeding Tomorrow continued to focus on advancing external partnerships with educators and influencers through organizations such as the National Science Teachers Association. We frequently hear students and professionals say they had a love of science as a child and later stumbled on the science of food as a career path. Feeding Tomorrow wants to change this and remains committed to ensuring young people are exposed to food science and technology as a potential career option. Through collaborations and events such as our annual virtual educator event, Feeding Tomorrow provides teachers with the information they need to introduce our youth to exciting career opportunities in the science of food.
With an eye on the future, IFT and Feeding Tomorrow leaders made an important decision this year that will allow the foundation to take the next step in its evolution. The IFT Board of Directors approved the elimination of the separate 501c3 for Feeding Tomorrow. Bringing the governance and fiduciary responsibility for Feeding Tomorrow programs under IFT increases efficiencies, simplifies oversight, and offers more focus on programs of impact. It also reduces administrative costs, enabling us to make a greater impact and put more donor dollars to work to bring the most creative and innovative minds to the science of food while helping them to improve the world.
Today’s science of food professionals are laying a solid foundation upon which the next generation will continue to build solutions to put food on the tables of people around the planet. They need our encouragement.
Creating an enduring culture of support for the world’s future food scientists is imperative to achieve IFT’s mission of a world where science and innovation are connected and universally accepted as essential to improving food for all. The generous contributions from longtime donors and friends of the foundation make it happen. We appreciate our community’s support and look forward to making an even bigger impact in the year to come.