Santa Clara University

Food & Agribusiness Institute

Food & Agribusiness Institute

Food & Agribusiness Blog for news, events, announcements, and more.

  •  FAI Preparing for Upcoming Cuba Immersion, Planning for Nepal in 2016

    The Food and Agribusiness Institute (FAI) is finalizing preparations for its upcoming immersion program in September. For twelve students and three FAI faculty members, the trip will be a geographic and cultural voyage through Western Cuba, exposing Cuban agriculture, history, politics, economics and environment in the wake of the recent groundbreaking negotiations made by Washington and Havana.

    This Immersion marks the second consecutive year FAI is going to Cuba. Erika French-Arnold, FAI's Assistant Director and coordinator of Immersions, ensures that novelty and exciting uncertainties await the new group of students. "Returning to Cuba gives us an opportunity to make improvements. The list of changes include visits to industrial farming sights, and spending nights in Pinar Del Rio and Trinidad."

    The trip offers a unique perspective on agriculture and economic practices in the developing world, and allows the students to experience daily life with the native people in an up close and personal way. "My trip to Cuba really allowed me to examine a different political and cultural environment. I am proud to come back to Santa Clara, not only to share my experience but also to challenge some of the misconceptions people have about the country," said Phil Mirenda '16 who made his first journey out of the country with FAI last year.  Along with visiting organic farms and local markets, the students will also visit local medical clinics and hike through a biosphere in one of the most untouched countries in the world.

    Immersion experiences, like those offered by FAI, are truly unique to an academic environment; and with previous trips to Nicaragua, Ghana, and Burma being such a success, it is inspiring to see so many Santa Clara undergraduates take an interest.  The Food and Agribusiness Institute places a high priority on allowing students an authentic experience that sparks conversation and innovation, both on the trip and on campus.  The connection to the university allows for a variety of opportunities that would not be available to other groups, especially in a country like Cuba, with many restrictions and regulations.

    After returning from Cuba, Ms. French-Arnold will immediately shift her attention to Nepal, the destination of FAI's 2016 Immersion. "Dr. Baker [the Director of FAI] and I will go there in October to explore and select two or three regions we want to take our students. We are looking forward to this trip for many reasons, especially because we will be accompanied by Joanne in 2016."

    Joanne Hale, an Adjunct Faculty Member at FAI who instructs the course "Feeding the World, formerly the Director of USAID in Nepal.

    Nepal should have plenty to offer for an FAI immersion. According to the World Bank, almost 90% of Nepal's people depend on agriculture for livelihood, but only 20% of the land is cultivable. By adding to the mix Nepal's proximity to the Himalayas, and its religious and and economic framework, Nepal reflects the transformative setting of FAI immersions.

  •  The FAI's New Graduate Program

    We're excited to announce that the Food and Agribusiness Institute has submitted a proposal for a Master of Science degree program in Food Industry Management. The program, if approved by the Santa Clara University trustees in May, will commence in June 2016. The program will be 47 units and four quarters in length. All students will be required to complete an internship in the food industry. The program is envisioned as a fifth year master’s degree for students with little or no work experience. We anticipate recruiting students primarily from Cal State Universities, UC Davis and Santa Clara University. The program will begin with five students and grow each year.  

    To gauge interest in the MS, FAI held an "ideathon" in January with 20 members of the food industry, FAI affiliated faculty and a few students. We had a very productive conversation about the most important non-curricular aspects of the program as well as critical subject areas we should cover in our courses. Members of the FAI staff interviewed more than 25 alumni and industry specialists and Greg Baker and Erika French-Arnold visited Cal Poly- San Luis Obispo, Chico State and Fresno State to talk to faculty and students about their interest in the program. Finally, we surveyed students and faculty from Cal Poly, Chico State and Fresno State and received over 100 responses! Most students expressed interest in a program and they gave great feedback about the kinds of courses and experiences they would like to see in our MS.

    Specific food industry courses will include Food Industry Operations; Supply Chain and Quality Management; Food Marketing; Food Nutrition and Safety and Food Industry Innovations. Students will also take several other business courses and complete food industry leadership and capstone requirements.

    The Food Industry Management program will be the only one of its kind in the United States. While other universities offer food and agribusiness, agricultural economics or food marketing MS degrees, FAI will be the only school with a food industry management degree. The focus of the program will primarily include California agriculture but we anticipate including sections on international food industries as well

  •  Diana Fruit Company tour: May 8th, 2015

    We invite you to join the Food and Agribusiness Institute for a visit to Diana Fruit Company in Santa Clara on Friday, May 8th from 8:30-11:00 a.m. We'll tour the facility with Chief Operating Officer and FAI Advisory Board member, Jeff Goshorn, learn about one of the oldest continually functioning food production facilities in Santa Clara County and see how their Maraschino cherries, glace and dipping cherries and fruit coctail cherry halves are produced. Please email Clare Gordon at to RSVP!

  •  FoodCrunch: Innovation You Can Taste

    In the Silicon Valley, it feels as though the tech industry churns out innovations faster than we can we can say "iPhone." But tech isn't the only industry innovating here in California.

    The Food & Agribusiness Institute has teamed up with Beta Gamma Sigma, international honor society in business, to host FoodCrunch: Innovation You Can Taste, which will profile entrepreneurial growth and major investments in California's food industry.

    Food Crunch--which will take place April 30th in the Forbes Family Conference Room--will start with a panel discussion and move to a networking and sampling fair. The panel will feature industry movers and shakers who are pushing the sustainable food movement to new ground. Organic and local foods are great, but who are the visionaries setting out to transform the industry as we know it? What is the healthy, cost-efficient meal of the future? What does a profitable, sustainable food company look like?

    We are pulling together companies, investors, and all-around novel-thinkers who are disrupting the food industry to outline how they develop their innovative products, obtain funding, and spread the word to a target market. Panel speakers will include Roger Royse or AgTech Incubator, supporting innovation on Silicon Valley farms; Dan Zigmond, using data to help Hampton Creek identify meat and dairy replacing plant proteins; and Kate Danaher of RSF Finance, promoting social entrepreneurs in sustainable food and agriculture; Harvindar Singh, foraging for innovative local food products to retail at Whole Foods Market; and Eric Quick, CEO of Froovie, delivering organic, nutritious drinks to retail markets.

    The networking and sampling fair following the panel will give students an opportunity to further explore their curiosity about the innovations in the industry and taste a selection of these thoughtful products. FAI, BGS, and the companies and individuals collaborating with us for the event are excited to share their ideas and spark more creativity in the industry.


    Written by Jenna Herzog

Food & Agribusiness Institute
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