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Patricia and Charles Genuardi stand next to a plaque honoring their philanthropy.
Patricia and Charles Genuardi stand next to a plaque honoring their philanthropy.

Say cheese

Photos by Monica Moriak

New Genuardi Food Innovation Laboratory has cheese production and student test kitchen space

The University of Delaware College of Agriculture and Natural Resources (CANR) celebrated the grand opening of the 3,600-square-foot Charles A. Genuardi ’70 and Patricia Genuardi Food Innovation Laboratory in April 2019. This new research and innovation space includes equipment for UDairy Creamery dairy processing and cheese production, as well as a student test kitchen. This facility will allow students to learn entrepreneurial and food production skills that will carry them from the classroom to a multitude of career opportunities beyond the University.

“The facility has come to fruition through the support of many people, including the Genuardi family and many other generous donors. Members of UD’s Board of Trustees, our partners in UD Facilities and people all over campus had a hand in making this happen,” said CANR Dean Mark Rieger.

Rieger acknowledged the many UD leaders and faculty members who established the UDairy Creamery in 2008, including Provost Robin Morgan, who was the college’s dean at the time; retired professor and then Deputy Dean Tom Sims; and retired agricultural marketing professor Carl Toensmeyer. The Unidel Foundation contributed to the project in 2008 and again in 2015.

“Their idea was, ‘Let’s start an entrepreneurial activity where our students can learn how to innovate and run a business,’ ” said Rieger. “The primary product of the Creamery is always the well-educated student; the byproduct is the ice cream and now we will have a whole lot more byproducts with cheese, and eventually butter and yogurt.”

The Genuardi family established Genuardi’s Family Markets in the 1920s and their first privately-owned supermarket opened in 1954. The business expanded exponentially over the years and was managed by several generations before selling the business to the regional supermarket chain Safeway in 2001.

Charles and Patricia Genuardi are long-time supporters of the college, establishing an endowment in 2005 to support CANR students interested in food marketing, sales or management. In addition to philanthropy, Charles serves on the President’s Leadership Council; both Charles and Pat are recognized by the UD Founder’s Society, Delaware Diamonds Society and True Blue Hen Loyalty Society.

Dairy Plant Manager Jennifer Rodammer (second from left) gives tour to guests at the recent unveiling ceremony.
Dairy Plant Manager Jennifer Rodammer (second from left) gives tour to guests at the recent unveiling ceremony.

The family was on campus to celebrate the grand opening with fellow UD alumni, donors, faculty, staff and students.

“I felt like I never really left campus. We are so proud to be part of the University and its future,” said Charles, who earned his bachelor’s degree in food business in 1970 (now food and agribusiness marketing and management). “We have a special interest and pride in the College of Agriculture and Natural Resources. We are fortunate to be able to give back in this way. Thank you to all of the teachers, administrators and students that will enjoy this facility.”

The UDairy Creamery educates entrepreneurial UD students through the production and sale of premium ice cream made from the milk from the cows on UD’s dairy farm. This new facility will allow the Creamery to begin producing cheese and other dairy products, boasting a newly remodeled floor plan with processing utilities, vat pasteurization, cheese making and sanitation equipment and a quality assurance laboratory. A food science test kitchen is also now available for students and faculty to work on projects, coursework and research.

“Being able to offer these sorts of facilities and experiences to new and current students is exciting, since they will be able to see the full process of dairy processing,” said UDairy Creamery Director Melinda Shaw. “[This year’s Ag Day] marked the eighth anniversary of our Newark storefront opening. I’ve had the honor and privilege of seeing our on-site production from the very beginning. We’ve now had 400 UD students learn and work at the Creamery.”

“We are incredibly excited about this new space. It will provide our students with opportunities to create and develop new food products that align with consumer trends in their product development course,” said microbial food safety professor Kali Kniel. “In other courses, food science majors study what happens to multi-ingredient food products when ingredients are switched to avoid allergies or to create more healthful final products. This space will allow our students to work together and with regional industry to identify solutions to today’s challenges in food product development.”

A viewing gallery will also open to the public during normal business hours, so visitors can watch cheese and ice cream processing in action.

For questions regarding products and gallery hours, contact udcreamery@udel.edu.

Several UDairy Creamery staff and student employees pose in the Genuardi Food Innovation Laboratory’s cheese production room.
Several UDairy Creamery staff and student employees pose in the Genuardi Food Innovation Laboratory’s cheese production room.

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