Food Studies  News

Welcome Class of 2024!


Falk College welcomes new and returning Falk students to Syracuse University. The Falk student body includes 1,774 undergraduate and graduate students. The newest Falk students are a talented group from 40 states 22 global countries. We welcome 347 first-year and 28 transfer students who join 165 new graduate students.

The entire welcome week schedule for new students can be found by visiting the Syracuse Welcome website.

Reining in High Sodium Diets by Raising Awareness

Culinary specialist William Collins discusses the risks of eating too much salt and shares strategies to reduce sodium consumption.

Overhead shot of Chef Bill Collins talks to a roundtable of students in a kitchen
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention surveyed attendees of William Collins’ workshop (which was held before social distancing began) and found participants have since replaced a combined total of 62 products with lower-sodium alternatives.

Two of the five leading causes of death for residents of Onondaga County in New York are heart disease and stroke, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Nearly one in three people in the county is especially at risk due to high blood pressure, a rate that is comparable to the risk nationwide.

The prevalence of high blood pressure can be attributed to excess salt in the diets of Americans, beginning with what children eat in school, says chef William Collins, a culinary specialist with the Department of Nutrition and Food Studies in Syracuse University’s Falk College. Collins has worked as an executive chef for 25 years and has taught introduction to culinary arts at Falk for the past 12 years.

Today, the average American consumes an estimated 3,400 milligrams of sodium each day, more than one and a half times the recommended limit. Collins recently worked with the Onondaga County Health Department to host a workshop for a cross section of food service staff at schools and colleges in the county. The workshop (which took place before social distancing began) offered recipes, hands-on instruction and seminars for reducing the use of salt in meals served to children and young adults. “I’m a believer that our palates are somewhat trained, even at a young age, to eat what we’re accustomed to,” Collins says. “And if we’re used to having an abundance of salt in our food, that’s the way we’re going to eat for the rest of our lives.”

We reached out to Collins to ask how people can help limit their intake of salt while still producing delicious meals.

Why would you add salt to a dish?

There are two main flavor enhancers in the culinary world. One is salt, and the other is acid. I don’t ever want something to taste salty, and I don’t ever want something to taste sour. But the addition of either of those things to a dish can perk up the flavors that are already there.

Are cooks the source of the overabundance of sodium in the typical American diet?

It really isn’t what we’re putting in our food—it is what the manufacturers are putting in it. That’s where most of our sodium comes from: prepackaged foods and the manufacturing process. For example, look at canned tomatoes or diced tomatoes in water. The sodium content is excessive. Products that are labeled as “no salt added” contain one-tenth of the sodium.

What strategy can a home cook can use to reduce the sodium in a dish?

The addition method is when you add things that are lower in sodium to offset the sodium. For example, if you had a recipe for a marinara sauce that called for two cans of tomatoes, but instead you add some fresh tomatoes. You don’t have to reinvent the wheel, but by doing something as simple as that, you’ve taken the sodium content of those tomatoes and you’ve cut it in half by just adding fresh tomatoes.

Why is this especially a problem for institutions that are cooking for significant populations of children/students?

With institutional cooking, cooks are typically looking for how can they make the job efficient as possible. Opening cans and dumping them in and making sauces out of these canned products is often the best scenario. It is important for cooks to read the labels on products they are using. When I visited various kitchens in the Syracuse City School District, I discovered some easy changes that can be made. For instance, all of the butter they were using was salted. The question is: Why are you allowing a manufacturer to dictate how much sodium is going into your recipe just because you’re adding some butter? It is OK to eat butter occasionally, but why have sodium in it? Why shouldn’t you control the sodium? And something as simple as switching from salted to unsalted butter is a matter of awareness.

Using the strategies and methods offered by culinary specialist Collins, schools and colleges saw a 95% decrease in sodium in some of their menu items, according to the CDC. After the training, participants said, “Now we look at all of our menu items to see if there are low-sodium options available from our distributor.”

What are possible challenges for implementing these changes?

I think the hardest thing is convincing the actual workers who are preparing the food. They are worried that their job is just going to get harder. I can help them see—based on my experience—that not only can they reduce sodium, but they can make their lives easier at the same time. That is why this this workshop was successful for the Syracuse school district, which is working very hard to reduce sodium levels.

In the workshop, I modified one of my original sauces that I used to serve in restaurants. I just looked at it differently and was aware of what I was putting into it. I took a barbecue sauce and potentially reduced the sodium by 95 percent. I thought it was still delicious. The last seminar that I did was sort of a flavor burst looking at spices, concentrating on Southeast Asia. We were doing a lot of curries, and I was showing them how you can build flavors—using fresh herbs, using spice, using citrus—to make a dish really pop.

Could a shift in institutional cooking help influence a reduction of salt used in manufacturing?

The CDC’s aim in supporting these health department initiatives is to reduce sodium in food served to children and to inspire institutions to contact the representatives of these large manufacturers and say, “Can’t we get something that’s lower in sodium? Can’t we get something with no salt added?” And that is what you are starting to see. Ten years ago, you could not get no-salt-added ketchup in the grocery store, but it’s there now. It’s important to raise awareness of what is in these cans that we open and dump into things. And I think if everybody was a little bit more aware and demanded some changes from the manufacturers, they would give us what we want. We just need enough people to ask for it.

~ Brandon Dyer

A Syracuse University Story published on July 30, 2020.

Online June 10 symposium to address vulnerable populations during COVID-19

Addressing community food security, food justice, human rights and vulnerable populations during COVID-19

Falk College’s Department of Nutrition and Food Studies at Syracuse University will host an online symposium, “COVID-19-Vulnerable Populations and Food Access: A Food Justice and Human Rights Foundation for Community Food Security,” on June 10, 12:00-1:15 p.m.

The coronavirus pandemic has uncovered failings in our approach to emergency food programs such as subsidized school feeding. It has also revealed an alarming lack of support for underpaid, under-protected, and under-acknowledged food system workers, who are now labeled essential in the face of a crisis. A human rights-based approach to food justice recognizes both equality and compensation for social marginalization and discrimination. “By placing food access within a legal framework, governments can be held accountable for developing critical policies and processes focused on the rights, needs, and political participation of vulnerable populations,” says Professor Anne Bellows, one of the primary organizers of the event.


Rick Welsh

Rick Welsh

Falk Family Endowed Professor of Food Studies,
Chair of the Department of Nutrition and Food Studies

Area of Specialty: U.S. food and agriculture policy and rural economic and social development.


Anne C. Bellows

Anne C Bellows

Professor, Graduate Program Director, Food Studies

Area of Specialty: Human rights-based approach to food and nutrition security.

Chaya Lee Charles Portrait

Chaya Charles

Assistant Teaching Professor, Nutrition Science and Dietetics

Area of Specialty: Dietary intake and nutritional status in adults.

Rachel Murphy Portrait

Rachel Murphy

Director Food and Nutrition Services, Syracuse City School District

Presenting: How the Syracuse City School District School Food Authority implemented emergency feeding services in the midst of an unprecedented situation by leveraging USDA flexibilities, community partnerships and food system changes.

Laura-Anne Minkoff-Zern

Laura Anne Minkoff-Zern

Tenured and Promoted to Associate Professor, Food Studies

Area of Specialty: Food and racial justice, labor movements, transnational environmental and agricultural policy.

Food studies students honored for excellence, achievement


As it does each year, the Department of Nutrition and Food Studies recognizes its students with awards for outstanding achievements in academics, research, service and other areas of scholarship.

This year, on Friday, May 8th 2020, The Department of Nutrition and Food Studies united virtually to present awards to our undergraduate and graduate students and to celebrate all their significant accomplishments over the past academic year.

This meeting was a modification to the usual in-person end of the year ceremony which was converted to a virtual ceremony this year in order to manage the circumstances of the COVID-19 pandemic. More than 50 members of the Department of Nutrition and Food Studies along with their families and friends, came together to attend the ceremony. The NFS awardees were celebrated for their wide range of impressive academic and community engagement accomplishments.

They have made great contributions in their areas of excellence, and we look forward to hearing about the value they contribute to the communities where they live and work. To all of our students, and especially the Class of 2020, we know you are ready to embrace the world that needs all you have to offer!

View the ceremony

Award winners in the Food Studies program:

Edward Crossman Portrait

Chef’s Prize – Edward Crossman

This is awarded to a Food Studies major or minor who demonstrates exceptional ability in the culinary arts. This ability should also include food justice and community engagement goals of the Food Studies Program.

Maggie Toczko Portrait

Food Studies Research Award – Maggie Toczko

This is awarded to a Food Studies major or minor who demonstrates exceptional ability in the culinary arts. This ability should also include food justice and community engagement goals of the Food Studies Program.

Deborah Orieta Portrait

Food Studies Justice Award – Deborah Orieta

This is awarded to a Food Studies major or minor who demonstrates the ability to successfully address food justice-related issues through a variety of mediums.

Assata Cradle-Morgan Portrait

Food Studies Community Engagement Award – Assata Cradle-Morgan

This is awarded to a Food Studies major or minor who demonstrates the ability to create or implement progressive food-based initiatives that engage diverse politics locally, nationally or internationally.

Neena Hussey Portrait

Food Studies Culture and Commensality Award – Neena Hussey

This is awarded is given to the Food Studies major who has expanded the Food Studies program to new audiences by sharing food knowledge and practice through social activism

Roseane do Socorro Gonçalves Viana Human Rights Awards:
Best Undergraduate Paper – Sierra Endreny
Best Graduate Papers – Chanel Gaude, Elizabeth Pickard, Gabriel Roth

This award is given to the best undergraduate and graduate papers on the human right to food, nutrition, and/or health. Roseane do Socorro Gonçalves Viana, Brazilian nutritionist and right to adequate food activist and writer, left a powerful message of hope and belief in the essential goodness of each and every person, of the need to take on our individual and collective responsibilities to ensure the welfare and dignity of all and for each and everyone, that all struggles are important and must be respected, and, most of all, that the voices of the affected must be heard.

4 Portraits together
L-R: Sierra Endreny, Chanel Gaude, Elizabeth Pickard, Gabriel Roth

Congratulations Class of 2020


Congratulations and best wishes to the Class of 2020 from the students, faculty, staff, advisory boards, alumni and friends of Falk College! The courage and resiliency you have demonstrated in these challenging times prove you are prepared to respond to society’s greatest needs. Now more than ever, our world needs all you have to offer. We look forward to hearing about your achievements as our newest Falk alumni and eagerly await the future in-person celebration at Falk Convocation and Syracuse University Commencement.

The Dean’s video message to the Class of 2020 was recorded late last year when we were fully expecting our traditional campus celebrations to take place this spring. Since then, the global coronavirus pandemic has impacted all of us in many difficult ways. We recognize how hard this has been for all of our students, and particularly the Class of 2020. While we will celebrate with you at distance for now, we look forward to celebrating together in person when it is safe to do so.

Join the Syracuse University community for the Class of 2020 Virtual Degree Conferral.

Where are they now? Food studies alumni excel on diverse career paths since 2014.

Graduates pose outside Manley Field House
Graduate food studies students on their graduation day in May 2018. Pictured from left: Hillary Katrina Chartron Bartholomew, Briana Alfaro, Molly Ennist, and Irma Nurliawati.

In 2010, one of the fastest-growing fields of study in North America was food studies. At that time, Falk College Dean, Diane Lyden Murphy, had a vision for future academic programs related to food focused on maximizing student opportunities in this area. In 2014, the college announced its new Bachelor of Science in Food Studies, which leveraged resources of the former hospitality management program, as well as intuitive academic collaborations with the nutrition and public health programs in Falk. The first graduate students enrolled in Falk’s Food Studies master’s program Fall 2015, and a Certificate of Advanced Studies following in 2016. New minors have also been established since that time, including the most recent in Sustainable Food Enterprises.

Food is universal. It impacts every aspect of life, both as a fundamental human need and as a primary component of society in business, culture, politics, and beyond.

Food studies at Syracuse University’s Falk College focuses on the social, political, economic, and environmental contexts of food production, manufacturing, distribution, and consumption—locally, nationally, and globally. Students of the program gain a deep understanding of food policy and governance, gastronomy, health outcomes of food systems, human nutrition, and food access. They also hone marketable skillsets in research, data collection, and analysis, as well as food preparation, presentation and the business of food.

Careers for food studies alumni are as wide-ranging as the issues food studies seeks to address. Some major career prospects include employment with government agencies at all levels dealing with food and agriculture issues; food-oriented non-governmental organizations that work on sustainability and food security issues; the health and wellness industry and food processing, preparation, service and distribution firms.

Falk College food studies alumni employment records show that graduates of the program are succeeding in many different chosen career paths. Here are just some of the job titles held by Falk College food studies alumni:

Business Management and Marketing

Food Studies alumni apply their subject matter expertise in business roles such as sustainability, research and development, logistics analysis, retail, finance, purchasing, supply chain management, communications, marketing, and others.

Employment with food manufacturing, food marketing, restaurants and hospitality businesses are obvious options, but food studies alumni are prepared to work with business in a variety of sectors, spanning health and wellness to travel and tourism.

Alumni job titles:

  • Food Service Manager at a Fortune 200 global food and facilities services company (Aramark)
  • Catering Assistant for an Illinois restaurant chain (LYFE Kitchen)
  • Chef Consultant for a private university in New York State (Syracuse University)
  • Social Media for a luxury boutique hotel business operating in several major U.S. cities (The Standard)
  • Social Media and Communications Intern for a celebrity nutrition expert and author (Joy Bauer)
  • Influencer Marketing Associate for a major U.S. meal kit service (HelloFresh)
  • Restaurant Manager for a local farm-to-fork restaurant (3 Sisters Restaurant)
  • Kitchen Manager at Upscale Bakery in NYC (Blackseed Bagel)

Government, Policy, and Research

Climate change. Human rights and food access. New agricultural technology and science. These and other major world issues are shaping food career opportunities in government, policy, and research. Food studies alumni work in U.S. government agencies, international governing bodies, and other institutions to help shape legislation, trade, regulation, urban and rural planning and development, and more.

Alumni job titles:

  • Plant Protection and Quarantine Technician U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS)
  • Supervisor for U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children (WIC)
  • Purchasing & Food Services Administrative Assistant for public school system in Massachusetts (Newton Public Schools)
  • Food Sourcing Manager at a major U.S. university (University of San Francisco)
  • Community Research Assistant at a university in Canada (University of Guelph)

Nonprofit Organizations

In the nonprofit setting, food studies alumni work in advocacy and service delivery to achieve important social objectives such as public health, environmental health, and fair trade.

Alumni job titles:

  • Assistant Youthmarket Manager for a major environmental sustainability organization in New York City (GrowNYC, formerly the Council on the Environment of New York City (CENYC))
  • Ocean Policy Associate at an international environmental protection and advocacy organization (Earth Law Center)
  • Nutrition Educator for a regional nonprofit public health institute in a major U.S. city (Public Health Corp)
  • Public Policy Intern at a statewide anti-hunger organization (Project Bread)
  • Intern for member of U.S. House of Representatives
  • Food Blogger for an international health foundation (International Bipolar Foundation)
  • Account Coordinator for a major U.S. city food bank (Greater Cleveland Food Bank)
  • Case Manager II at a statewide homelessness alleviation organization (People Assisting the Homeless (PATH))

Advanced Degree Programs

Some alumni have used their food studies undergraduate degree as a foundation to pursue advanced degrees in health professions, social sciences, legal and policy approaches to food, among others.

Alumni academic pursuits:

  • Nursing School (Southern Connecticut State)
  • J.D. Law School (Vermont Law School)
  • Masters of Public Administration (U Penn, Rutgers)
  • M.S. Food Studies (NYU, Syracuse)
  • M.S. Nutrition Science (Syracuse)
  • M.S. Marriage and Family Therapy (Syracuse University)
  • Master’s Degree in Education (Clarkson University)

Learn more about the Food Studies program.

New program equips students to connect food enterprises with positive social change

Chef Instructor Uyehara and a Falk student prepare food in Falk College's Klenk Kitchens.
Falk College facilities support student learning, specifically in the Susan R. Klenk Learning Café and Kitchens, where students have access to hands-on learning opportunities in nutrition, dietetics, and culinary-related fields under the guidance of professional chefs as their course instructors.

Social justice, health and wellness, environmental sustainability, and other consumer interests are driving increased market demand for “value-based” foods such as organic foods, which comprise 5.7 percent of food sold in the U.S. according to the Organic Trade Association (OTA).

The OTA reports the U.S. organic food market in 2018 at $47.8 billion. The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Economic Research Service finds that organic food sales have exhibited double-digit growth during most years since 2000 and the organic share has been growing rapidly.

As a result of these industry and market shifts, there is growing demand for food professionals knowledgeable about food industry practice and operations as well as food-related social movements. Sourcing local, organic, or fair trade products for foodservice, retail, or special events is becoming important for firms interested in pleasing consumers and catering to diverse interests.

The Department of Nutrition and Food Studies at Syracuse University’s Falk College recently launched its new undergraduate minor in Sustainable Food Enterprises to prepare students for food industry careers with courses in food safety (ServSafe and Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Points), restaurant and foodservice operations, feeding people on a large-scale, operational and policy aspects of the foodservice industry, and marketing and managing events, conferences, and workshops.

In the minor, students choose from a set of food economies courses focused on labor issues, food enterprises as urban development strategies, establishing and operating emergency feeding systems, food cooperatives, values-based certification systems such as organic and fair trade, and social justice in the food industry. Students can also choose from a set of business courses to acquire skills around marketing, entrepreneurship, event management, and more.

These courses culminate in a senior-level Food Enterprises course designed specifically around the concepts of “impact investing” and “social entrepreneurship,” or structuring firm operations to promote positive social outcomes. “This particular course strengthens their ability to navigate the business side of food and all that encompasses while working for the changes that add value to their areas of interest,” says Chef Mary Kiernan, chef instructor for the Food Enterprises course.

“The topics covered in Food Enterprises prepare students to be in-tune with the business aspects of any food enterprise—from understanding an income statement to what motivates our purchasing choices,” says Kiernan. “The students explore a variety of food enterprises from the traditional eating and drinking segments, to agro (agricultural) economies, to technology shaping our food ways.”

The course is designed for the students to find a problem they would like to tackle and then tackle it with a food enterprise solution. “Students bring perspectives from all over,” she says. Some recent student interest areas in Chef Kiernan’s class include food security on college campuses, laws surrounding food and food enterprises, and individual food items that have a nutritional benefit in the marketplace, among others. “The students also research ESG (environmental, social, and governance) investing to better understand what it means, how it works, who is participating, and at what level,” she adds.

Falk College facilities support student learning, specifically in the Susan R. Klenk Learning Café and Kitchens, where students have access to hands-on learning opportunities in nutrition, dietetics, and culinary-related fields under the guidance of professional chefs as their course instructors. The 5,000-square-foot facility includes experimental food lab and commercial kitchens, a baking nook, and café outfitted with the same equipment found in industry-leading restaurants and culinary institutions.

Learn more about the Sustainable Food Enterprises minor

Devotion to Family, Friends, Food and Social Justice

A Devotion to Family, Friends, Food and Social Justice: Remembering the Life of Professor Evan Weissman

Evan Weissman Portrait
Evan Weissman
Evan L. Weissman, Ph.D., Associate Professor in Food Studies and Nutrition at Syracuse University’s Falk College, passed away unexpectedly while at home with his family on April 9. Professor Weissman touched the Syracuse community where he lived, and that he loved deeply, with his kindness, his energy, and his passion for social justice.

Professor Weissman joined Falk College in 2012 and was instrumental in working as part of the collaborative team that successfully launched a bachelor of science in Food Studies in 2014 and additional academic programs since that time. The undergraduate director of the Food Studies program, he was an affiliated faculty member in Syracuse University’s Aging Studies Institute and the Maxwell School of Citizenship and Public Affairs’ Department of Geography.

He was a highly approachable, committed teacher who was equally comfortable in a classroom and working with students on a compost pile. Whether it was an introductory food studies course or advanced-level offering, Professor Weissman engaged students in community-based work to advance social change. During his popular Farm to Fork course, students explored culinary theory and practice of alternative food networks through cooking laboratories and field trips.

A partnership he created with My Lucky Tummy, a pop-up food court celebrating the refugee and New American community in Syracuse, helped students develop tangible, transferrable skills while making an impact on the community. Students worked side-by-side with chefs from Eritrea, Japan, South Sudan, Iraq and Bhutan, learning about different cultural foodways and developing related competencies. Students’ deep interest in this particular learning opportunity, and the many hours they volunteered for no pay or credit, exemplified the commitment to making communities stronger that he fostered in his students.

His numerous honors include the Syracuse University Excellence in Graduate Education Faculty Recognition Award, the Falk College Faculty of the Year Award for Teaching Excellence, the Syracuse University Faculty Sustainability Fellowship and a Teaching Recognition Award as part of the Laura J. and L. Douglas Meredith Professorship Program, which he received in 2015. That same year, students in his Feeding the City course were honored with a Chancellor’s Award for Public Engagement and Scholarship, an award Evan and his students received on multiple occasions in recognition of meaningful and sustained engagement.

Students and Professor work on a pile of dirt
As a professor and researcher, Evan Weissman (pictured far right) connected his students to the causes of inequality to food access and the many ways to address it. His unwavering dedication to these causes led to him to be a co-founder of Syracuse Grows, an organization that supports urban food production through community gardening.
His research examined grassroots efforts to address food disparities in urban America. His specializations in local food policy, food deserts, community food systems, food justice, food system inequality, urban agriculture, and community gardens made him an often sought-out expert for national and local media, including WAER’s City Limits project focusing on poverty in Syracuse where he discussed how proposed changes to the SNAP food and nutrition program would impact local families, food security, and agriculture in our region.

With scholarship that was directly and consistently focused on equity, diversity, and inclusion through community-engaged, participatory teaching, his research sites often became hosts for students fulfilling practicum requirements, and many of his journal publications included student co-authors.

A collaborator who reached across the Syracuse University and SUNY ESF campuses and beyond, he was the recipient of numerous research grants and awards. Most recently he served as principal investigator of the project, Increasing Demand for Local Foods in Cortland County School Meal Program, funded by Cornell Cooperative Extension / NYS Farm to School to raise awareness of and demand for local foods in schools. He was a co-principal investigator on the CUSE Grant, Turbulent Tenancy: Evictions in Syracuse, further illustrating a life-long commitment to interdisciplinary innovation to build and strengthen communities.

Professor Weissman was a founding member and served on the board of Syracuse Grows, a grassroots network that cultivates food justice through advocacy, education, and resources in support of urban food production, and served on the Onondaga County Agricultural Council. His unwavering dedication to these causes also helped launch the newly-formed Syracuse-Onondaga Food Systems Alliance (SOFSA), a multi-sector coalition of stakeholders from across the food system in Onondaga County.

His many professional affiliations included the Agriculture, Food and Human Values Society, the Association for the Study of Food and Society, and the Association of American Geographers where he often chaired conferences and presented at them.

An associate editor of Urban Agriculture and Regional Food Systems he was also an ad hoc reviewer for Agriculture, Food and Human Values; Journal of Agriculture and Environmental Ethics; Journal of Agriculture, Food Systems, and Community Development, and; Renewable Agriculture and Food Systems, among others.

Professor Weissman earned his Ph.D. in geography from the Maxwell School of Citizenship and Public Affairs at Syracuse University. His dissertation, “Cultivating the City: Urban Agriculture and Agrarian Questions in Brooklyn, NY,” explored the tensions between the stated goals and outcomes of urban cultivation. He earned a master of arts in sociology and minor in environmental policy from the University of Tennessee, and a bachelor of arts in environmental policy, administration and law from Binghamton University.

As an educator, mentor, scholar, and friend, Professor Weissman was committed to the human condition, always problem-solving to build better communities. He inspired those around him to advocate for equity in the food system and beyond. Along with his family, the Falk College community, including current students and countless alumni working for food justice and social justice, will continue the work he believed in so deeply as shared in a tribute to his life. Additional details about ways the community will come together to celebrate the life and work of Dr. Weissman will be announced at a later time.

Food studies senior explores the science of food and climate change

Food studies students visiting a greenhouse at Main Street Farms.
As part of their corses, food studies students have the opportunity to visit regional farms. Pictured are students visiting a Main Street Farms greenhouse.

Senior food studies major Sierra Endreny ’20 plans to take her career path in many different directions. “I am passionate about the environment, social justice, health, and food. The food studies program allows me to combine all my interests, and also gives me a broad array of skills and experience when looking for prospective employment,” she says.

As part of her food studies program, Endreny took the Climate Change in the Food System course with professor Rich Welsh, Ph.D. “I wanted to learn more about climate change on a scientific level and how it affects the food system,” she says. “I hope to incorporate environmentalism into my work and this course gave me the tools to do that.”

Professor Welsh is an expert on food and agricultural policy, technological change in agriculture, and the livestock industry. “The course helps students understand the substance and history of climate change research and the scientific consensus that human activities are the primary source of greenhouse gas emissions and global warming,” he says. “In addition, there is substantial material on how global warming will impact food production and food security; and, how agriculture can adapt to a changing climate and mitigate global warming.”

Through the course, students are exposed to a wide variety of topics and issues, from climate-smart agriculture to technological innovations to address climate related-issues in the food sector. “My biggest takeaway was the methods that are used to mitigate and adapt to climate change. I didn’t know that urban gardens could sequester carbon in the atmosphere and lower surface temperatures, while also feeding people and providing community,” says Endreny.

“The issues presented in this course affect all of us,” she adds. “No matter what career path I take, the knowledge from this course will stay with me throughout my life because climate change and food affect everything.”

Falk College Instructor’s Award-Winning Craft Distillery Joins Fight Against COVID-19

Chris Uyehara, a culinary specialist at Syracuse University’s Falk College and owner of Last Shot Distillery, is bottling hand sanitizer instead of his usual gold medal whiskeys.

A Syracuse Story by Brandon Dyer originally published on April 8, 2020.

According to the World Health Organization (WHO), alcohol-based hand sanitizers are effective against a broad spectrum of microbials and are the best option in places where hand washing and sinks aren’t readily accessible. Since the outbreak of COVID-19 in the U.S., hand sanitizers are nearly impossible to find in stores.

The scarcity of hand sanitizer was a concern for culinary specialist Chris Uyehara, so he investigated the problem to find out how he could help. In addition to teaching professional baking, fine pastry and introductory culinary classes at the David B. Falk College of Sport and Human Dynamics, Uyehara is also owner of the award-winning Last Shot Distillery in Skaneateles, New York. After investigating the logistics and a hand sanitizer recipe posted by the WHO, Uyehara reached a crossroads. “I had some product started. In fact, I had some ready to go, but I said, ‘You know what? I’m going to distill that to make hand sanitizer.’”

Last Shot Distillery has won several gold medals for American whiskey and lightening whiskey, but owner Chris Uyehara’s newest creation is not for consumption.

Uyehara soon reached out to some fellow distillers, and together they switched processes from whiskey production to sanitizers. Uyehara is doing all this while still conducting five distance learning classes, often grading papers late at night and into the morning. “It’s challenging, but there’s a need for the sanitizers right now,” he says. “We’re not even touching a small portion of what the needs are.”

“My target was to bring sanitizers to independent senior living facilities,” says Uyehara. Hand sanitizers are essentially ethanol with added glycerin or glycerol and hydrogen peroxide. Using a variation of his vodka recipe, Uyehara cooks corn sourced from Cayuga and Onondaga counties and triggers a fermenting process. “You take the alcohol out of that fermentation and distill it,” he says. The WHO recommends a minimum of 160 proof for sanitizers, which translates to 80% alcohol by volume. Last Shot Distillery—always an overachiever, with gold medals for American whiskey, corn whiskey moonshine and lightening whiskey—distills its hand sanitizer to 170 proof.

Chris Uyehara holds a glass bottle up
Falk College culinary specialist Chris Uyehara bought his bottles from another local company, Waterloo Container. Some of his customers are keeping the bottles as keepsakes.

Uyehara purchased every two-ounce container he could find at the local dollar store, filled them with Last Shot Hand Sanitizer and started donating to senior housing and nursing facilities in his area. As production expanded, he purchased six-ounce bottles from Waterloo Container and began donating to the local ambulance and fire departments. Now he’s producing enough to sell six-ounce bottles in the community. His customers appreciate his willingness to help. Some have said they will keep the six-ounce sanitizer bottles as souvenirs. They want to remember when the distillery right around the corner made something to help with this crisis. “It’s pretty cool to hear that,” says Uyehara.

Last Shot Distillery charges WHO’s suggested wholesale amount for the bottles being sold. While this is enough to cover expenses, the company isn’t turning a profit on the new venture. That’s fine with Uyehara. “There’s a need. People are scared. They want sanitizers,” he says. Last week, he sold 500 bottles in two days. Since then, many local businesses have expressed interest. Last Shot has switched gears and is offering half-gallon containers to meet that demand.

With large and small businesses across the country switching gears to manufacture medical equipment, Uyehara is happy Last Shot can pitch in to help. “We may not be big like the big boys, but at least we can assist in our own community and do something good.”

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