Hartwick Students Pitch Healthy Food Concepts

Vending machines and food trucks. A farm on Strawberry Field. Local dairy at Table Rock Cafe.

These are just some of the ideas students came up with in “Human Centered Design and Food,” a FlightPath FLP course taught by Kevin Schultz, associate professor and Department Chair of Physics, Carlene Ficano, professor of economics and Mike Walsh, director of the Griffiths Center for Collaboration and Innovation, that challenges students to develop ideas to bring fresh, healthy food to Hartwick students.

“After learning about the economics and science of local versus industrial farming, the students have been using the techniques of Human Centered Design to frame design questions, conduct interviews, brainstorm and prototype,” said Shultz.

Armed with poster boards, markers, Play-Doh and other materials, students collaborated and designed their projects.

Naomi Leila Sater ’26 and Delancey Blaine ’26 redesigned Table Rock Cafe to reduce junk food and open up space for local produce, milk and eggs.

"It should be less of a convenience store and more of a grocery store. It's hard for students to get over to WalMart."

Delancey Blaine '26

Art Major

“Human Centered Design and Food”

FlightPath FLP Course

Students and faculty during “Human Centered Design and Food,
Students during “Human Centered Design and Food,
Students during “Human Centered Design and Food,
Students during “Human Centered Design and Food,
Students and faculty during “Human Centered Design and Food,

By consolidating the chips and candy displays, the cafe could open up space for local manufacturers to offer fresh bread, sauces and other farm goods.

Matthew Locasto ’25 molded Play-Doh into carrots, lettuce, and even a piglet. “Strawberry Field has a lot of space,” he said. “If we had a farm on campus, we could offer fresh food for the dining hall, work-study projects, and raise money for the school.”

Similarly, Kiera Johnson’s ’26 group pitched a course that would engage students in farming practices, then allow students to intern on a local farm. “We get course credit. They get volunteers,” said Johnson.

Students then had to pitch the ideas, Shark Tank-style, to a panel of judges, including Ficano, Walsh and Devin White, director of dining services.

"Many students would prefer to cook for themselves. We think a cooking club, with local ingredients and fresh produce available at Table Rock, would teach students this valuable skill, good health habits, and time management."

Jaiden Soberanis '26

Business Administration Major

The idea was a hit. “It’s so important for students to learn this skill,” said White. “I’d be open to expanding this idea if you want to meet with me in the fall.”

Ficano suggested it could work in conjunction with Blaine’s idea about fresh food at Table Rock. “It’s a great way to connect these ideas.”

And hopefully, Schultz said, they can implement some of those plans.

“Mike, Carli and I have never taught a class like this before and it was certainly an adventure,” said Schultz. “The three of us learned a lot from each other and we were incredibly impressed with the quality of the students’ work. We look forward to working with some of them to further develop some of their ideas.”

May 18, 2023
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