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Food & Agribusiness Institute

Food & Agribusiness Institute

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

  •  The 7th Annual Hunger Action Summit: Food as Medicine

    Food as Medicine: The Intersection of Hunger and Health” was the focus of the seventh annual Hunger Action Summit at Santa Clara University on January 30, 2015. Experts from across the country came together to present current food and health propositions to a crowd of over 200 guests. Focusing on the theme, "food as medicine" brought fervent interest from the crowd.

    For the first time in history, the current generation is no longer expected to outlive their parents generation, as more and more Americans are suffering from diet-related diseases. Our population has presented the country with a paradox of having enough calories to completely satiate our population, but individuals are still suffering from malnutrition. In order to address this paradox, the "food as medicine" concept was born.

    In order to address the concept, the summit was arranged to present the problems society is currently facing, what is currently being done to address these problems, and what future possibilities are in the works. Dr. Drew Starbird, Dean of Santa Clara University's Leavey School of Business, spoke first and addressed the current need for food within Santa Clara and San Mateo Counties. "The Hunger Index improved slightly in both counties, reflecting improved economic conditions and increased support from food-assistance providers like Second Harvest," said Starbird.

    CEO of SHFB, Kathy Jackson, offered approaches to minimizing hunger and reducing the stress on food distribution organizations such as SHFB. Jackson believes a possible solution may be dual enrollment in MediCal and CalFresh programs, as those who are chronically ill are often found at food pantries, and those who are chronically hungry are commonly found at hospitals. As Jackson mentions, "poverty, hunger, and diet-fueled health disparities are all tied together."

    The link between health and hunger was further validated by Dr. Hilary Seligman, associate professor of Medicine, Epidemiology and Biostatistics at the University of California, San Francisco. Dr. Seligman's talk focused on the link between diabetes and food insecurity, as being food insecure increases the chances of acquiring diabetes.

    Lastly, Robert Greenwald, J.D., Director of the Center for Health Law and Policy Innovation at Harvard Law School, spoke on his most recent research titled, Food as Medicine: The Case for Insurance Coverage for Medically-Tailored Food Under the Affordable Care Act. According to Greenwald's presentation, "food is an effective component of ameliorative health care for the acute and chronically ill, considering it is both cost effective and improves overall patient health status."

    The 2015 Hunger Action Summit proved to be a culmination of all the bright ideas, future propositions and current factors working towards solving hunger and diet-related health issues. The day’s presentations challenged the audience to think with a different perspective, step outside their comfort zone, and look into options they may have never thought feasible.

    To view the program and watch a video of the event, click here.

  •  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.

    The Immersion to Nepal will be a first for Santa Clara; no other institute on campus offering immersions has ever journeyed through the mountainous country.

    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 1st Annual Business of Beer

    A spirited atmosphere in the Locatelli Center inspired beer enthusiasts and professionals during the inaugural Business of Beer forum hosted by The Food and Agribusiness Institute. The event’s objective was for Santa Clara alumni and MBA students to learn from experienced beer professionals about the beer industry, particularly about entering and succeeding in the industry.

    The event featured eight panelists, working in various areas of the beer industry, followed by an opportunity for the audience to network and taste some samples with new knowledge. Eight breweries provided a diverse selection of craft beers and cider to taste, and the panelists remained during the tasting for personal conversation.

    As the crowd dispersed into the autumn evening, those in attendance expressed a sense of satisfaction. Harriet Harvey-Horn, who earned her MBA from Santa Clara in 1995, commented, "We thoroughly enjoyed the event...;It was very well done [with] great panelists. The beer [and] food [were] well-organized." After receiving assuring feedback like that, the Institute is planning on making the Business of Beer an annual event.

    Breweries that poured a broad selection include Anchor Brewing Co., Hermitage Brewing Co., No Name Cider Co., and Firestone Walking Brewing Co. The panel's distinguished speakers included Marty Kuchinski, an organic hops farmer and owner of Hops-Meister, LLC; Dan Gordon, co-owner of Gordon Biersch Brewery; Lloyd Knight, the marketing manager for 21st Amendment Brewery; Jenny Merit, the Craft Beer Ambassador for DBI Beverage; Jenny Lewis, co-founder and CEO of Strike Brewing Company; Terence Fox, president of M.E. Fox & Company; Keegan Raines, a beer specialist from Whole Foods Market in Cupertino; and John Gillooly, a brew master from Drake’s Brewing Company.

  •  "The Cost of a Healthy Meal" Research Update

    The Cost of a Healthy Meal research project, started in the summer of 2011, is finally complete.

    The study aims to understand the food purchasing behavior of low-income families. Specifically, the objectives are to: 

    1. Estimate the actual amount that low-income families spend on food and compare it to government budgets for food expenditures, such as the Thrifty Food Plan, or SNAP (Food stamp) allotments.
    2. Analyze the nutritional composition of food purchases of low-income families and compare it to nutritionally adequate dietary plans such as the Thrifty Food Plan.
    We are in the process of writing research articles, and will keep you posted when and where to see them when they publish!
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