Auburn University has long included interconnected disciplines that are part of the nationwide food system. The AU Food System Institute (AUFSI) unites those strengths in an interdisciplinary, cross-departmental venture to contribute to the safety and quality of the U.S. food supply and the viability of different parts of the food system. We like to talk about food from “farm to fork” or “pond to plate,” but a food system also includes social, political, economic and environmental contexts that affect the food supply. AUFSI supports food systems-related research by facilitating focused “working groups” that bring together faculty with different but complementary research interests and providing them beginning-to-end grant support. Our staff seeks out grant opportunities and helps project teams write, edit, budget, and manage grant proposals.
AUFSI also has an outreach/extension component through its Food Entrepreneur Working group, which offers another form of food system support by helping budding entrepreneurs who have the potential to transform their community through creating successful businesses. The capstone project of the Food Entrepreneur Working Group has been the annual Food Entrepreneur Conference, which took place in Auburn in spring 2013 and has been organized each year since. AUFSI and its partner, the Alabama Cooperative Extension System (ACES), sponsor the conference. Special guests and conference mentors have included Alabama entrepreneur Patricia “Sister” Schubert of Sister Schubert’s Homemade Rolls; Stacy Brown, founder of Chicken Salad Chick; and Chuck Caraway, founder of Southeastern Food Group, one of the Alabama’s most important food production and processing companies. Guests have also heard from industry and academic experts such as ACES food safety specialists, regulation specialists from the Alabama Department of Public Health, and grocery store representatives. The event has not only given entrepreneurs the tools to start operating, but it has served as an opportunity for them to network with other food business owners in different stages of growth.
Finally, AUFSI disseminates faculty research and extension activities through articles for trade publications to reach readers in the general public and, in particular, the food and agriculture sectors.
What is a Food System?
A food system includes all processes and infrastructure involved in feeding a population: growing, harvesting, processing, packaging, transporting, marketing, consumption, and disposal of food and food-related items.
Meed the Auburn University Food Systems Institute Team Members.
To provide an infrastructure for promoting interdisciplinary research, outreach, teaching, and training opportunities relating to food systems among faculty in academia, personnel in industry, decision-makers in government, and consumers in the general public.
After a successful first year of securing $1.3 million in extramural grant funding and the Initiative becoming an Institute.
Meet the Auburn University Food Systems Institute Affiliate Faculty. They’re really great.