History & Future
The January 27, 2007 issue of the Chronicle of Higher Education reported that Cornell’s Food Science program is ranked as the premier food science program in the nation. The discipline of Food Science focuses on the conversion of raw agricultural commodities into human food products, taking into account the environmental, quality, safety and nutritional consequences of these conversions. The Cornell Department of Food Science, which is housed in Stocking Hall, addresses the challenges of providing a sustainable, wholesome, safe and affordable food supply for New York State and beyond through research, education, and extension programming and by preparing students for leadership roles in the food industry, government and academia. The work done in Stocking Hall is critical to the long-term competitiveness of New York’s Agriculture and Food System. Researchers, faculty, staff and students work to identify and control food-borne illness outbreaks, improve the healthiness of our food supply, improve the value and marketability of products manufactured in New York, increase efficiency of producing safe, wholesome dairy foods, and protect the safety of New York’s dairy food supply.
Cornell’s advanced research and extension activities are an invaluable asset to the state’s economy. Cornell food scientists bring new jobs to the state and enhance existing businesses by working closely with farmers and dairy processors and by preparing students for employment. Milk is New York’s leading agricultural product, accounting for nearly $2 billion in annual farm gate receipts. The 286 milk-processing plants in the state further add value to this milk and milk from nearby states. Studies show for every $1.00 of product produced in milk processing plants, $2.26 of additional local economic activity is generated. Further, every worker in a milk processing plants is supported by an additional 5.72 jobs on farms, in agribusiness, in transportation, and in marketing the dairy products produced in New York. Stocking Hall research has provided the state with improved infrared milk analysis for determining farmer payment, increased cottage cheese sales, improvements in Cheddar cheese, software used in processing plants, and many other advancements. Cornell food scientists ensure that our milk plants produce the safest and highest quality products. They address specific processing needs of companies, from small local firms to consumer food giants.
The 13 Food Science faculty members in Stocking Hall raise and expend ~$6 million each year from external funding sources (e.g., USDA, NIH, NASA, and private industry) to support 116 staff and graduate students in directed research and outreach programs. As part of their preparation for employment or further graduate study, undergraduate students (currently 105) have opportunities to participate in department research and outreach programs.
Stocking Hall, which houses Cornell University's Department of Food Science and the Northeast Dairy Foods Research Center, is in serious disrepair. Though state-of-the-art when built in 1923, many of Stocking's classrooms are now unsafe for students and staff and are essentially inaccessible to those with mobility impairment. The food processing facilities are at risk of failing to meet regulatory compliance and the laboratories are outdated for 21st century research.
To simply maintain its premier status in the nation, the Cornell Food Science program needs to continue to recruit and retain the best faculty, staff and students, to meet current and future needs of undergraduate and graduate students, to provide appropriate training opportunities for the food processing industry, and to conduct state-of-the-art research. The decrepit condition of Stocking Hall is a serious threat to the ability of the program to function day-to-day, much less to hold its leadership position in the field. Our vision is to design and build a new Food Science facility to provide an appropriate infrastructure to allow Cornell faculty, staff and students to lead the nation in imagining and bringing to life the future of the field of food science.