Halle Greenbaum of Mount Olive Starts Food SCience & Nutrition Club at USC

By Steve Sears

Halle Greenbaum’s cookies made minus baking soda, butter, and eggs

“I was just finishing prepping up for our club fair tomorrow,” Halle Greenbaum says by phone from the University of Southern California, where she is now in her senior year. “I was making cookies.”

Greenbaum was baking the chocolate chipped delights for a demo, and she omitted baking soda, butter, and eggs. “We’re going to demonstrate how those specific ingredients affect the structure and taste,” she says. 

Greenbaum founded the USC “Food SCience Nutrition Club” in 2020, and this summer started a GoFundMe page to support her endeavor. (*Note: That’s not a grammar error you see. The “SC” is accurate, representing the “SC” found in USC). “I founded at the club because soon after going into college, I read a book about food fraud forensics, and I had no clue that the food science field even existed. I knew right away that’s what I wanted to do. So I was already at USC, which does not offer a food science program, and so I decided to kind of fill that niche, so that I could learn more about the field and spread it to my peers as well.” As for the GoFundMe page, “This is the first year that I have a new eboard, and we’re actually planning things and getting the ball rolling in terms of events. This is the first year that we kind of focused on needing funding, because we can’t really put on events without it. Since we’re a registered student org, we can apply for funding from the student government, but they’re having a bunch of issues right now. They’re reviewing the application and they haven’t released it, and then once you apply you have to wait five to six weeks before you get approved. I thought the GoFundMe would just be a quick way to have some funds in our pocket so that we could start off right away.”

Greenbaum lived in Mount Olive for 18 years, and was a member of the Budd Lake First Aid and Rescue Squad when she was 16 years old. “I was always in the field of helping people,” she says, “and I now study public health at USC. It’s kind of related, and I think I want to go into food safety which is also related to public health just in the food lens.” This past summer, Greenbaum spent the summer at Cornell University doing Dairy Microbiology research. “I always knew that I wanted to be a scientist,” Greenbaum says. “I went to medical camp in eighth grade and decided I didn’t want to be a doctor, so I wasn’t sure exactly what I wanted to do. But I’ve always been a foodie and loved to cook, and loved to just explore different foods so I thought that I could do a science related to food.”

On Thursday, September 1, Greenbaum and the “Food SCience Nutrition Club” – along with many other campus organizations – indeed took part in that major Involvement Fair event at USC, Greenbaum’s inviting, free cookies on the table. “When I started the club,” Greenbaum says, reflecting back to 2020, “a lot of the people that joined were just people that knew me and helped me get it going. So now, going into our first real year, I think it is going to be well received.” She could be prophetic here: 75 new members signed up for the “Food SCience Nutrition Club” on the 1st and, per Greenbaum, planned events resonated well with the students that visited the club’s table. “It’s just really going come down to what people find interesting. We try to keep it all fun activities because a lot of people just don’t know what food science is like. If you didn’t do it and aren’t told about it, you don’t really even realize the whole industry behind it.”

Monies collected from the GoFundMe will go towards events, and Greenbaum has some nice ones planned. One is an oyster mushroom cultivation project, planning to host a beer fermentation event to teach about brewing science, and a collaboration with an outdoors club where there will be a campfire cooking competition. “There’s definitely a lot of things,” Greenbaum says. “Since food science is such a broad field, I just want to introduce people to as many facets of it as possible.”

 

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