Building on the momentum of 1970s environmental movements, individuals, businesses, and public institutions have a growing interest in issues surrounding how food is produced and consumed. At Syracuse, food studies intersects a variety of disciplines: geography, agriculture, and natural sciences; human access to food and nutrition, and; public policy involving labor, trade, and sustainability.

Today, the field of food studies is well-established internationally, informing and impacting public administration, public health, sustainability, and the food system on which all people depend.

Use the numbered orange dots to connect events on the timeline with corresponding photos. The photos and historical data are courtesy of individual faculty and staff contributors. Photos of the 2015 Food Systems Summit are courtesy of The University of Vermont and Ian Thomas Jansen-Lonnquist. Photos of Villa Rossa in Florence are courtesy of SU Abroad and Caroline Fallon.


Increased public interest in food-related issues in the United States inspires the emergence of the field of food studies in the 1990s, which explores the connections between food systems, social stability, human and landscape sustainability, public health, and urban and regional design and planning. The first degree programs in the nation are founded at New York University and Boston University.


At Syracuse University, the School of Social Work and College of Nursing, along with two departments in the College for Human Development, merge into a single, multidisciplinary academic unit at Syracuse University specializing in human services and health professions. In 2001, the College of Human Services and Health Professions opens at the University.


Food studies is one of the fastest-growing fields of study in North America. Falk College’s vision for future academic programs related to food focuses on maximizing student opportunities in these and other emerging career trends by blending academic offerings in hospitality management, nutrition science and dietetics, and public health, as well as facility and event management.


The College of Human Ecology is renamed the David B. Falk College of Sport and Human Dynamics with support from Syracuse University alumni, David Falk ’72 and Rhonda Falk ’74. The Falk Complex, former home of the College of Law, is dedicated in 2015. The first undergraduate food studies course— Introduction to Food Studies—is taught at Falk College within the newly formed Department of Public Health, Food Studies, and Nutrition. 1 Academic offerings in food rapidly expand to include such courses as Human Right to Adequate Food and Nutrition, Feeding the City: Urban Food Systems, Food Studies Research Methods, and Feeding the World: Global Agri-food Governance, pictured.


In February, Falk College announces its new bachelor of science in food studies. Students learn about the food system in areas including food justice, urban food systems, international trade, labor, human rights, science and technology, and culinary expertise. Falk College’s program in food studies leverages resources of the former hospitality management program and the College of Agriculture, as well as intuitive academic collaborations with the nutrition and public health programs in Falk. 2 Pictured are scenes from student visits to Main Street Farms, an urban farm.

3 Throughout the program’s early years, students are engaged in collaborative projects in the Syracuse community, such as developing educational workshops for the Southwest Community Farm, a Syracuse urban farm; using geographic information systems to leverage e-commerce and address inequalities in food access, and; supporting environmental activism by marching with a crowd of 300,000 at the Climate Change Rally in New York City, pictured.

4 Food studies students recognize the need to bring local, sustainable, and ethically-grown food to campus and from their efforts, BrainFeeders is founded, the first academically-recognized food studies student organization in the nation. BrainFeeders actively promotes a more sustainable food system by engaging local farmers and empowering peers to be more involved in food choices on the Syracuse University and SUNY College of Environmental Science and Forestry campuses.

Students in the Urban Food Systems course receive the Chancellor’s Award for Public Engagement and Scholarship for their work with the Syracuse-Onondaga County Planning Agency conducting a community food assessment to understand existing food resources in Central New York. Topics of exploration included food production and regional farming, food access in Syracuse, farm-to-institutions programs, and refugee communities’ contributions to the CNY foodscape.

Food studies hosts My Lucky Tummy, a pop-up food court celebrating the refugee and new American community in Syracuse. Students work alongside chefs from Eritrea, Japan, South Sudan, Iraq, and Bhutan, learning about different cultural foodways and developing cultural competencies. 5 Anna Delapaz ’17, the first food studies major, is pictured left cooking alongside community members at My Lucky Tummy.


6 Faculty and students in food studies travel from Syracuse to the University of Vermont for the Food Systems Summit, where they discuss the human right to adequate food and its intersection with the environment, public policy, and nutrition. In Syracuse, BrainFeeders successfully establishes a Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) program at the University.


7 Food studies begins a study abroad program in Florence, Italy, in which Syracuse students from all disciplines are able to take food studies courses, complete internships, and work in the on-site kitchen garden.

8 To further involve students in critical community engagement and practical work experience, food studies hires its first internship coordinator. Food studies practicum sites include organizations such as the CNY Regional Market, Eat to Live Food Cooperative, Syracuse Real Food Coop, CNY Food Bank, Cornell Cooperative Extension, Slow Food, Southwest Community Farm, Syracuse Grows, pictured, as well as other area farms, supermarkets, and restaurants.

Food studies students help create Food Plan CNY, a collaborative effort to assess agriculture, food distribution, consumption, and disposal in the region with a goal to improve food policies and programs. After obtaining New York State Department of Education approval for Falk’s new master of science degree in food studies in April 2015 and enrolling the program’s first graduate students in fall 2015, the food studies graduate program becomes fully operational and welcomes its first formal graduate cohort in fall 2016. A certificate of advanced studies in food studies is also created in 2016.

9 Falk College dedicates the Susan R. Klenk Learning Café and Kitchens, including commercial and experimental kitchens, made possible by a gift from Syracuse University human development alumna, Susan Klenk ’62. By 2017, the food studies program at Falk has partnerships with several Native American organizations, including Friends of Ganondagan, the Iroquois White Corn Project, and the Seneca Nation Health Department, in which students explore cultural foodways, traditional food resilience, entrepreneurship, and the connection between food and wholistic health.


Research is an essential element of Falk’s food studies program, with current faculty projects that explore grassroots efforts to address food disparities in urban America; gender, nutrition, and the human right to adequate food; the role of Latinos as farmer-entrepreneurs in United States, and; the application of anaerobic digestion for resource recovery on smaller livestock farms.