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 Institute Targets Wider Audience With Packed Schedule

Posted on Wednesday, Aug. 11, 2010

The Food & Agribusiness Institute may be one of Santa Clara University’s most active secrets. A team of MBA students affiliated with the Institute came away from an international case study competition last year with a first place prize. The academic collaborative, little known outside of graduate business circles, recently added a pathway for undergraduate students interested in pursuing the curriculum. And a soon-to-be-published calendar will nearly double the number of speakers and events hosted by the Institute in years past.

“I think we’re just stepping up the game,” said the Institute’s assistant director, Jessica Gagnon. “We’ve got the resources, [and] we’ve got the interest.”

Arguably one of FAI’s biggest events of the year, a Hunger Issues Forum focusing on hunger in Santa Clara and San Mateo Counties, will take place even before students return to campus in late September. The presentation of hunger research data to community and non-profit leaders is slotted to take place September 10 in the Forbes Conference Room of Lucas Hall. Hybrid produce mobiles, which supply fresh produce to areas left with little or no distribution, will be on campus during the forum to help make the connection between hunger and obesity.

“If the poorest people have little or no access to fresh fruits or vegetables, then nutrition, of course, falls by the wayside,” said Gagnon.

A photo project called The Faces of Hunger will also be unveiled at the Forum to highlight the portraits and stories of individuals served at Second Harvest Food Bank.

The Institute will host an inaugural case study competition open to all Santa Clara students on October 23, which Gagnon hopes will draw students from multiple schools on campus. Officials from FAI plan to meet this month to decide specific competition criteria and will give more details at the start of the academic year.

Other fall events include a Follow Your Food Series with Bon Appetit, focusing on local apple producers and featuring a menu of apple-inclusive dishes; A Business of Tequila event discussing sustainable production; and a Benefits of Buying Local panel discussion.

Farmer and sustainability advocate Joel Salatin will speak on campus January 19 to kick off the winter quarter. Other winter events include a Food For Thought Discussion on Farm to School Programs and a Business of Beer event.

Representatives from Clif Bar will speak about an organic seed initiative in May. Other events scheduled for the spring quarter include a Farm Workers Awareness Series discussing the rights of immigrant laborers and a Business of Flowers event.

Specific dates and more information will be forthcoming by early next month. Check the Food and Agribusiness Institute’s web page for information about upcoming events and the curriculum.

By Christopher Woodhouse, '10, Sustainability Intern

Tags: Education and Research, Food, Program Highlights