Teachers and industry at the same table

The first day of the food science workshop concluded with a dinner at the Northwest Ohio Cooperative Kitchen, connecting participants with industry experts. The Center for Innovation in Food Technology (CIFT) staff was present, along with guests from Willy’s Salsa, Campbell’s Soup Supply Company, the Ohio Soybean Council, the Ohio Development Services Agency, Ohio Senator Teresa Fedor, farmer Nathan Eckel, and others.

Senator Fedor emphasized the importance of helping students be prepared to enter the work force. “We are not relying on high-stakes testing anymore,” she said. “Students should be ready to work, not ready to take a test.”

Bryan Ellis from Toledo Natural Science Technology Center said he appreciated the networking opportunities. “To be able to hear specifically from those in the career tech field was valuable. Our programs rely on students getting jobs. If they don’t get jobs, we suffer. Having more partners brought to the table can really help us to help the students gain employment.” Reynoldsburg High School teacher Trevor Horn said he liked “seeing people with different perspectives on food all wanting to learn more and work together to teach students about the importance of feeding a growing population.”

Everyone had the chance to sample and vote for their favorite salsa from the batches made during the workshop sessions. Next, groups toured the Northwest Ohio Cooperative Kitchen (NOCK) grounds. NOCK assists new and growing food businesses by providing a commercial kitchen and food processing area, available for rent. The facility includes a coffee roaster, a blanching and dehydrating room, a steamer-cooker, and a bean snipper machine able to process 800 pounce of beans per hour.

NOCK is also the home of a Sustainable Agriculture research plot. Participants viewed terraced plantings, vertical hydroponic systems, and greenhouses. The tour certainly demonstrated food’s trajectory from field to package!