AGRICULTURE

Tasty Transformation
Kellogg Company donation helps build new food technology lab

  Martin Sancho-Madriz
“Our new laboratory is essential to supporting [our] learn-by-doing philosophy, by providing our students with hands-on experience,” says Professor Martin Sancho-Madriz.

The Kellogg Company knows a thing or two about driving innovations in food science. Its founder, W.K. Kellogg, was a pioneer in food manufacturing who was at the forefront of ready- to-eat cereals — especially Corn Flakes — as healthy breakfast food more than a century ago.

Today, Kellogg’s legacy lives on at Cal Poly Pomona by enabling more innovation and more experiments for students studying food science and technology. As part of their curriculum, these students learn about transforming and improving food through preservation, processing and packaging technologies.

This past summer, the Kellogg Company donated $25,000 to the human nutrition and food science department to create a much-needed food technology laboratory. This follows on the heels of the company’s donation to Cal Poly Pomona of $30,000 last year to create a scholarship endowment for aspiring food scientists.

Professor Martin Sancho-Madriz, chair of the human nutrition and food science department and founder of the Food Science and Technology Program, says the Kellogg Company’s support for the project has been critical in moving it forward.

“Our new laboratory is essential to supporting Cal Poly Pomona’s learn-by-doing philosophy, by providing our students with hands- on experience in the area of food processing technology,” he says.

The new lab bolsters a program that is in many ways exceptional. Cal Poly Pomona is one of only three campuses in the California State University system to offer a degree in food science and technology separate from nutrition or other related fields.

After Kellogg’s donation jump-started the lab project, the College of Agriculture Dean’s Office matched the gift, and by mid-June work began on the project’s first-of-three phases.

Piece by piece, the department’s vision is becoming a reality.

When Sancho-Madriz began teaching at Cal Poly Pomona in 1997, the department had no equipment to offer hands-on student experiments in food science and technology. Instead, it relied on observational field trips to local companies performing food technology operations, such as pasteurizing and homogenizing milk.

Little by little, the department acquired equipment mostly through grants. Today, the curriculum offers eight experiments in food processing technology conducted over two quarters. Some include homogenization and pasteurization of milk, as well as dehydration of fruits and vegetables. The goal is to increase that number to between 10 and 14 experiments, which will be possible with the new lab and the purchase of additional equipment.

The new lab will be essential in supporting undergraduate and graduate research projects on food technology topics.

“W.K. Kellogg, our founder, was a strong believer in the power of education as evidenced by the contribution of his California estate to the California state education system, which would later become the heart of the Cal Poly Pomona campus,” says Nelson G. Almeida, vice president of global nutrition, scientific affairs & technology scouting at the Kellogg Company. “W.K. Kellogg was also one of the great food innovators of his time with the creation of ready-to-eat breakfast cereal. This specific donation to the food science department at Cal Poly Pomona continues his legacy of innovation by supporting the young minds that will be the food innovators of the future.”

The human nutrition and food science department is seeking additional funds to complete phases two and three of the lab’s transformation. Phase two will include the installation of a floor drain system, food-grade floor coating, and the design and installation of a hood with roof exhaust for equipment generating heat. Phase three will complete the project by adding several pieces of small-scale food processing equipment.

“For students to succeed in their future careers, particularly in food science, they need the hands-on experience that this new food lab can provide,” Almeida says. “We are pleased to be helping with this initiative to create a well-equipped and up-to-date laboratory for the next generation of food scientists.”

Not only has Kellogg given money, it is providing substantial opportunities for student development. Last year, the company added Cal Poly Pomona to its highly competitive internship program, making it the first university in the West to participate. The first two Cal Poly Pomona students will begin their six-month internships at the company’s R&D facility in Battle Creek, Mich., in January and July 2014, respectively, where they will work one-on-one with members of the Kellogg team.

“It’s a fantastic opportunity for the students,” Sancho-Madriz says. “It’s hands- on training like they could never get elsewhere. The Kellogg team has been very generous to Cal Poly Pomona, and we greatly appreciate its support.”

The College of Agriculture offers students a choice of eight majors that range from the traditional disciplines to sustainable agriculture, food science and apparel industries.

The college’s campaign goals will focus on the creation of a veterinary clinic, endowed department chairs, and the completion of the AGRIscapes complex to include a Center for Food Innovation and Technology.

Lester Young, Dean
(909) 869-2200
lcyoung@csupomona.edu

Kristen Daley, Director of Major Gifts
(909) 869-5471
kldaley@csupomona.edu