The Texas A&M Foundation has received a $5 million gift through the Islamic Food and Nutrition Council of America (IFANCA) to establish a program in food diversity in the Department of Nutrition and Food Science at Texas A&M University. Through the efforts of Dr. Mian Riaz, a member of the Graduate Faculty of the Department of Nutrition and Food Science, and Dr. Boon Chew, head of the department, the university forged a partnership with IFANCA to meet the needs of a rapidly expanding ethnic food industry.
The program will educate students in the specialized areas of ethnic and faith-based foods and help students understand the attitudes, beliefs, traditions and geographic regions that coincide with these diets. Students in the program will also receive training in the process for certification of food products according to the requirements of a variety of specific religions and cultural groups.
“This is another great example of how Texas A&M is making an impact in the world. The diversification and expansion of teaching and related programs in international food production that we offer students will serve them well in the marketplace after graduation,” stated Texas A&M President Michael K. Young. “It also highlights our ability to serve society and the greater good – all elements in keeping with our land-grant heritage and mission.”
The gift from IFANCA will be used to provide faculty support, create a distinguished lecture series, offer graduate and undergraduate research funds, create high-impact learning opportunities for students, and update facilities in the Department of Nutrition and Food Science in the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences.
“Ethnic, faith-centered and socially conscious foods contribute very significantly to the U.S. and global market economy, and sales are expected to continue to grow rapidly,” said Chew. “The Islamic Food and Nutrition Council of America Program in Food Diversity will create countless opportunities for advancement in this field and prepare the next generation of food and nutrition scientists with increased global awareness.”
Prior to this gift, Texas A&M offered a single course in religious and ethnic foods taught by Riaz. With the funding from IFANCA, this course will be immediately expanded into more course offerings to benefit a greater number of students.
“Our course is the only one in the country that offers an exploration of the many dietary needs that span our globe,” said Riaz. “While similar programs offer an analysis of kosher and halal foods, our program is unique in its comprehensive look at diets from an array of faiths—such as Islam, Judaism, and Buddhism—and ethnicities.”
Headquartered in Chicago, IFANCA is a nonprofit organization and a global leader in halal certification, consulting and education.
“IFANCA would like to do its part to close this educational gap and give our students an edge in a highly competitive industrial environment,” said Dr. Muhammad Munir Chaudry, IFANCA’s president. “We hope this gift will serve as the seed that grows the knowledge base of halal and contributes to a pipeline of trained halal professionals. We recognize Texas A&M as a leader in agricultural sciences and are proud to be a partner with the university in this important cause.”
Texas A&M Foundation
The Texas A&M Foundation is a nonprofit organization that solicits and manages investments in academics and leadership programs to enhance Texas A&M’s capability to be among the best universities.