Santa Clara University

Food & Agribusiness Institute

Food & Agribusiness Institute

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

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  •  Summer 2013 Updates

    Happy August from FAI!

    As the new school year approaches, we are reflecting on the exciting and productive work that has taken place at FAI in the past several months. The Food and Agribusiness Institute frequently collaborates with Second Harvest Food Bank on a number of different projects, and this summer was no different.

    SHFB Summer Internship

    Sarah Madden, a rising junior at Santa Clara, recently wrapped up her internship with Second Harvest Food Bank. Sarah's work focused primarily on assisting Susan Takalo, Director of Programs and Services at SHFB, with distributing the Hunger Survey in the San Jose area

    Sarah is now heading off for a voyage with Semester at Sea and will return in January to continue working on her undergraduate studies, focusing on her FAI pathway.

    Cost of a Healthy Meal Research Project

    It has been over two years since the inception of the "Cost of a Healthy Meal" Research Project in the summer of 2011. Our research team has conducted over 600 interviews thus far, and by October 2013 they intend to have collected and analyzed 800 primary interviews, as well as secured 100 secondary and 100 tertiary follow-up interviews. The summer research team expanded to include 16 interns, seven research assistants, and one graduate student manager. We are excited about their recent progress and eagerly await the next formal update.

    Fall Immersion Trip

    The FAI staff is gearing up for the Institute's annual immersion trip! FAI Director Dr. Gregory Baker, and Assistant Director Erika French-Arnold, will be taking 12 students to Burma in September for a 13-day excursion. The students will have the opportunity to learn about the agriculture of various areas in Burma by speaking with the locals, exploring limestone caves, and learning about Burmese traditions such as silk weaving and meditation. We wish the group the best of luck on the adventure!

    IFAMA Student Case Competition

    FAI is proud to announce that a group of MBA students took 1st place at the International Food and Agribusiness Management Association's Student Case Competition this past June in Atlanta, Georgia. We can't wait to see what else the students will accomplish during their time at Santa Clara and their future careers!


    FAI has several exciting events in the works for fall, so check back soon and get all the information!



    Five MBA students pose proudly after taking first place in the IFAMA Student Case Competition in Atlanta, Georgia this past June.
  •  Burma Immersion Trip Application Process

    We are fast approaching the Burma Immersion Trip application deadline on February 13th. In the case that you weren't able to make the info session or wanted to watch it again, click here to view the recording. There is still time to apply for this great opportunity, so just click here to apply! For any questions and/or concerns feel free to contact FAI at 408-554-5173 or at

  •  Immersion to Costa Rica and Nicaragua

    From June 27th through July 8th, Dr. Gregory Baker, director of the Food and Agribusiness Institute, led Santa Clara University's immersion experience in Costa Rica and Nicaragua.  Dr. Baker, along with FAI Assistant Director Jessica Gagnon and FAI Alumnus and Lecturer Michael Harwood, accompanied 8 SCU business undergraduates and 1 student leader to Costa Rica and Nicaragua where they participated in a range of fun, educational, and truly immersive activities.

    Zip lining, hikes to waterfalls, and city tours were among the lighthearted activities the students experienced.  Of the many farms that were toured, some included sugarcane, cacao, banana, and cheese.  They also visited Tierra y Agua, which is a community agriculture collaborative.  These tours walked them through the process from start to finish of growing, harvesting, preparing, and distributing such crops.  It also emphasized the economic impact agriculture has on these communities.  Also on the itinerary were visits to two universities, Earth University in Costa Rica and INCAE University in Nicaragua.  The students got to interact with local students from the area to gain a more personal perspective on issues of hunger and poverty in these communities.  They also visited an elementary school and health clinic in the extremely impoverished Camilo Ortega region in Nicaragua where they planted gardens and plantain trees with the locals.  Students stayed with host families a total of 5 nights, giving them an opportunity to feel closer to and more immersed in the community.

    Check out photos from the trip on Flickr.

    "Falling in love with the people of Costa Rica and Nicaragua has, indeed, transformed everything. I feel a renewed energy to apply to graduate school because by studying, teaching, and writing about literature, I give a voice to people, causes, and ideas."

    "I will never forget the stories I heard, jokes I laughed to, or people I met during this unique service experience."

    "In America we live our lives very individually, but in Costa Rica and Nicaragua, the history, culture, and traditions are so integrated into the lives of each family, institution and community."

    "Life is all about gaining perspective and I feel so blessed to have gained some in a different part of the world."

    "During our volunteer day, we helped children from the local school to plant banana and plantain trees, cucumbers, carrots and other vegetables in their own backyards. It was an amazing feeling to know that in a few months, families will be able to eat the products of our labor."

    "One of the greatest advantages of this trip in terms of learning was that we witnessed and experienced the vast differences between Costa Rica, the most developed country, and Nicaragua, the least developed country of the region. As much as this trip was to learn about agriculture, it was also to learn about development."

    "Being able to have visited these countries made me more interested in getting to know more and possible revisit in the future when I can bring my education and the skills I learn to help people in need."

    "Truthfully, I can say that I fell in love in Costa Rica and Nicaragua.  I fell in love with the people, the food, the culture, the nature, and the people that I was able to share this experience with."

    "After our trip to Costa Rica and Nicaragua I realized there are things more important in life. I now better appreciate that I am privileged and there are few things I should complain about. Family, close friends, and helping others bring joy. When we reach the end of our lives we can’t take any of our material wealth, but we will always carry our memories and emotions."

    This immersion was tied to a course taught by Dr. Baker, BUSN 151: Food, Hunger, Poverty, Environment Immersion: Costa Rica and Nicaragua, which focused on the social justice behind the business of food production, consumption, hunger, and poverty in those countries.

    Future immersions sponsored through FAI will be tied to the new FAI facilitated pathway, Food, Hunger, Poverty, and Environment.  More information about the FHPE Pathway.

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