Why It's Important to Invest in Food Scientists
For foodservice workers seeking specific culinary skills, it hasn’t been easy to find funding for specialties such as culinary science and meat production. Thanks to the North American Meat Institute, that’s changed. NAMI’s Scholarship Foundation grants multiple tuition awards every year to undergraduates studying meat or poultry science, animal science, or culinary arts.
Mike Gangel, a former NAMI board member, now serves as president-elect of the Scholarship Foundation. He talks about the importance of investing in food scientists.
Why do restaurants need food scientists?
Food scientists play a critical role in transforming consumer preferences and demands into creative, marketable products. As restaurants respond to changing customer taste, food scientists formulate unique, high-quality products that meet those standards.
In formulating products, food scientists consider the required quantity, the production process, and the product’s ultimate use. These considerations coincide with food scientists’ work to optimize the texture, safety, and appearance of the product.
What differentiates the Scholarship Foundation from other programs?
Awards granted by the Scholarship Foundation provide a great complement to existing scholarships offered at culinary institutions. Chefs are important influencers in showing consumers how to prepare meat and poultry products, so it’s only fitting we offer a scholarship that encourages aspiring chefs to experiment with eye-catching meat and poultry dishes. Chefs are often a key link between NAMI members and the consumers who buy and cook these products.
Is interest and support growing for the NAMI awards?
For the upcoming 2017–2018 school year, the number of applicants tripled and the scholarships awarded showed a healthy increase, from $3,000 per student the prior year to $5,500 per student.
The Foundation’s six scholarships are named for industry icons and are largely funded by the families of those individuals, along with generous supporters. With rising tuition and housing costs, the Foundation’s Board decided that increasing the award totals would help students in a more meaningful way.
Can chefs working in the industry apply for scholarships?
The Scholarship Foundation currently supports rising sophomores, juniors, and seniors studying animal, meat, and food science and culinary arts. While we do not offer a scholarship for continuing education, we strongly believe those programs are essential to understand the latest technology.
As the culinary landscape continues to change and as the Foundation evolves, the board may consider adding scholarships to support continuing education programs. We do, however, encourage culinary professionals to reach out to the Meat Institute to take advantage of the education workshops, networking events, and resources offered.
Why is it important for a trade association to award scholarships?
Our program gives students from any school, particularly those who may not otherwise receive funding, some help toward achieving their degree.
Our scholarship winners are also invited to attend the International Production and Processing Expo (IPPE), which takes place each January. With more than 30,000 attendees and 1,300 exhibitors, IPPE provides an opportunity for these students to learn more about the industry and network with future employers and other professionals.