Hands On: Food Fundamentals

Funding for the Hands On: Food Fundamentals program was provided by the Grocery Manufacturer’s Association Science Institute. 

To access the student links for the Food Processing unit visit this page

For Food Systems links, click here

The food processing unit instructs students on what a processed food is.  Students learn processing methods for various commodities, as well as work to identify and debunk misconceptions related to food processing.  The unit concludes by allowing students to identify processing variations used in different countries around the world. 

Food systems aims to teach students how their food makes it from the farm to the fork. Students are given the opportunity to research the major areas of the food system in the United States and report on their findings.  Students analyze the steps a commodity goes through in the process of being a ready to eat food item. 

The Hands On: Food Fundamentals curriculum was reviewed by a panel of experts from academia and industry.  Meet the advisory panel below. 


Dr. Phil Perkins

Dr. Phil Perkins is a consultant with over 35 years of experience working for world class companies.   Phil retired from Bush Brothers & Company in September of 2016 where he served as Senior Vice President of Research, Development & Innovation. Prior to this, Phil’s career includes positions at Whitbread PLC (once the United Kingdom’s third largest brewing company now part of Anheuser-Busch InBev), M&M Mars (United Kingdom), and Grand Metropolitan / Pillsbury / Diageo (United Kingdom and the United States of America). In a professional capacity, Phil has worked with more than 150 food, ingredient and packaging companies in 20 countries throughout Europe, Central & South America, Africa, Australia, India, and the Far East. Phil enjoys playing golf, boating, and scuba diving and is actively involved in Special Olympics Golf. In 2014 he became a co-owner of Knox Whiskey Works a new micro-distillery in Knoxville, Tennessee, where he conducts whiskey tasting classes; provides distillery tours and develops new products (whiskey, gin, vodka, rum and liqueurs).

June Wasser, Executive Director, Reagan-Udall Foundation

June S. Wasser, MA joined the Reagan-Udall Foundation for the Food and Drug Administration in May of 2016. In this role, Ms. Wasser provides leadership, oversight and strategic direction for the Foundation’s development and implementation of programs and initiatives intended to foster advances in regulatory science in support of the FDA’s mission.  Prior to joining the Foundation, Ms. Wasser served as a consultant to leading academic non-profit organizations and academic medical centers specializing in translational science programs. Ms. Wasser has extensive experience in the development of continuing medical education programs, creating start-up organizations and program/business development for healthcare entities including the Tufts Clinical and Translational Science Institute (CTSI) of Tufts Medical Center, the American College of Cardiology Foundation, WebMD and the American Association of Neurological Surgeons.

Dr. Shauna Henley, University of Maryland Extension

Dr. Shauna C. Henley is entering her 4th year as a tenure-track Family & Consumer Sciences Agent at the University of Maryland Extension.  She covers 2/3rd of the Original Maryland FoodNet Counties.  Shauna is better recognized for her dissertation under Dr. Jennifer Quinlan at Drexel University in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, for “Don’t Wash Your Chicken!”  Her position at Maryland focuses is on nutrition, physical activity, and food safety. She regularly teaches workshops on food preservation and Food for Profit.  Shauna’s current research interest is learning where consumers’ knowledge gaps are in understanding various aspects of the farm-to-fork continuum, and creating educational materials to bridge these knowledge gaps.  She’s assisted Dr. Rohan Tikekar with Produce Safety Rule training, and is certified in ServSafe, GAPs, HACCP, and a lead instructor for PCQI.    

Sarah Engstrom, University of Wisconsin-Madison

Sarah Engstrom is a Research Specialist and concurrent Ph.D. food science student at the University of Wisconsin-Madison’s Food Research Institute (FRI). Sarah joined FRI in 2016, where she works under the direction of Dr. Kathy Glass on challenge studies with Listeria, Clostridium, Bacillus, Enterohemorrhagic E. coli, Staphylococcus, and Salmonella in a wide range of refrigerated and shelf-stable foods. Prior to FRI Sarah worked as a corporate microbiologist for Oscar Mayer / Kraft Heinz from 2014-2016 and for Land O’Lakes / rtech Laboratories from 2013-2014. Sarah has an MS in food science from the University of Wisconsin-Madison and a BS in food science from the University of Minnesota.

Dr. Harry Richards, University of Tennessee

Dr. Harry Richards is in his 13th year at the University of Tennessee, Knoxville. Currently, he is the Research and Proposal Development Coordinator for the John D. Tickle College of Engineering.  Dr. Richards received PhD from UNC-Greensboro in Nutrition Science and Biotechnology and completed a postdoc with the UTK Food Science Department.  His research has included the impact of engineered functional foods, GMO environmental and food safety, and genetic diversity of foodborne pathogens.  Dr. Richards is no stranger to the Hands On program as he was a Co-Investigator on the original USDA grant project where he assisted with writing and pilot testing the Hands On: Food Safety curriculum.  In his current position, Dr. Richards works with faculty to identify appropriate funding agencies for their research and develop compelling proposal narratives. 

Dr. Janie Burney, University of Tennessee Extension

Dr. Janie Burney holds a PhD in Nutrition Science and Public Health from the University of Tennessee, Knoxville.  Currently, she is in her 29th year with UT Extension and holds the rank of Professor. Dr. Burney was involved in the development of the Hands On: Food Safety program as a co-PI and assisted with the development of the 4-H edition of the curriculum. She has also been involved in several other projects related to nutrition and food saftey during her tenure at UT,