Niagara University students Ashley Decker and Garret Gardner have been selected to receive scholarships established by the food industry to support students studying food and consumer-packaged goods marketing.
Decker, a senior in Niagara University's food and consumer-packaged goods marketing program, was awarded the International Foodservice Manufacturers Association's Educational Foundation Scholarship, which was established to encourage the study of food marketing. According to the International Foodservice Manufacturers Association, one of the biggest tasks facing the food industry is how to attract (and retain) top talent.
Decker is the president of the Niagara University Food Marketing Association and has been actively involved in the many conferences and symposiums hosted by the university's Food Marketing Center of Excellence. She is currently an intern at Rich Products and intends to pursue her MBA.
"IFMA is pleased to provide Ashley Decker with this scholarship award made possible with our excellent partner, Niagara University. The food industry offers so many opportunities for future leaders, and this is one way to demonstrate the size and scope of our wonderful industry," said Larry Oberkfell, president and CEO of IFMA.
"This scholarship reassures me that this is the industry I want to continue to work in, because there are people like those at IFMA who want to help students get the knowledge they need to excel," Decker said.
Gardner, also a senior, was selected for a scholarship awarded by the Distinguished Order of Zerocrats, a group representing members of both the American Frozen Food Institute and the National Frozen and Refrigerated Foods Association. Garrett is an officer in the NU Food Marketing Association, volunteers for the American Cancer Society, and coaches for Little League baseball.
"Garrett showcases excellence in and out of the classroom," said Alan Stock, director of the NU Food Marketing Center of Excellence. "He is a rising young leader who will leave a positive mark on the food and CPG marketing industry."
"Being selected as the recipient of the distinguished Frozen Food Zerocrat Memorial Scholarship was great," Gardner said. "This reward not only helped me financially, but showed that the food and CPG major at Niagara opens a lot of doors for its students and provides them with numerous opportunities. This award helped reassure that I not only picked the right major, but the right career path."
The branded-goods and food industry is one of the largest industries in the U.S., comprising almost $2 trillion annually, or roughly 10 percent of gross domestic product, and employing more than 16.5 million people. It is estimated $18 billion has been invested in new food products and solutions over the past three years.
Western New York has the largest concentration of firms involved in food marketing in the U.S., with more than 1,200 businesses actively engaged in this sector.