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Lakeland University launching food safety and quality major based on employer demand

Friday, May 25, 2018   (0 Comments)
Business Journal

Patrick Leary



In conjunction with many of the companies that employ its graduates, Lakeland University is launching a new major focusing on food safety.

Lakeland is a small liberal arts college in Plymouth that also has online, weekend and night class centers in seven Wisconsin cities, including Milwaukee and Madison. The school is partnering with food industry companies such as Johnsonville LLC, Sargento Foods Inc., and Klement Sausage Co. to develop the new food safety and quality program, which is currently under review by the school's accreditor, The Higher Learning Commission.

David Gallianetti, the school's director of external relations, said the accreditor has preliminarily approved several of the courses for the new major, and he anticipates the major will be fully accredited before the start of the fall semester.

"As we talked more with food industry employers, it became clear there was a need for this degree,” said Brian Frink, the dean of Lakeland’s School of Science, Technology & Education. "Employers often struggle to find people interested in going into this industry, and many people don’t understand these jobs exist. We’ve worked with these employers to create a program that will lead to rewarding, good-paying careers doing important work in a large, growing industry.”

Johnsonville donated $500,000 to Lakeland in 2017 to kickstart the program and create a state-of-the-art, on-campus lab to replicate work conditions in the industry.

"Johnsonville is excited to partner with Lakeland to create a unique degree in the food industry combining science, technology and business acumen to enhance food safety and production throughout the entire industry,” said Michael Suprick, Johnsonville's international president.

For students at Lakeland’s main campus in Plymouth, the school's cooperative education program will provide 12-18 months of full-time work experience at food producers, academic credit for their work and a combination of scholarships and wages to "significantly reduce or eliminate post-graduation debt." The program combines study of biology and chemistry with best business practices to prepare students for careers in food processing. 

Other sponsors of the program include Masters Gallery Foods, Old Wisconsin Sausage Co., Usinger’s Famous Sausage and Miesfeld’s Triangle Market.

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