Food Science for Relief and Development (FSRD) is the application of food science and technology to enhance food security, health, and economic prosperity for global humanitarian and development purposes.

Food-related aid has traditionally centered on humanitarian crises, agriculture in development, and nutrition. These are critically important areas for addressing food and nutrition insecurity, but FSRD seeks to create a more comprehensive food system that would allow food science to connect and enhance all three areas. FSRD can be utilized in both acute and chronic aid situations, and incorporates long-term sustainability and food options that are precisely fit for their purpose.

One of the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals (SDG) is Zero Hunger, with a target date of 2030. The aim of the goal is to end hunger on a global scale and ensure all people have access to sufficient, safe, and nutritious food all year round - in other words, food and nutrition security.

Unfortunately, since 2015 the number of people who go hungry has been increasing. Currently, 821 million people are undernourished and 135 million people are experiencing a crisis level of food and nutrition security. If current trends continue over 840 million people will be undernourished by 2030. Additionally, the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic are expected to put an additional 130 million people on the brink of acute hunger.

To help reverse these trends, principles of food science should be utilized in the fight against food and nutrition insecurity. In fact, the United Nations highlights the importance of science, technology, and innovation in ensuring food security in their 2017 report by the Economic and Social Council.

According to FDN 0221 Volunteer Globally - IFT Insider - 160x133the Food and Agriculture Organization, there are four dimensions of food nutrition and security: food availability, access to food, food utilization, and food stability. The principles of food science and technology encompass each of these four areas yet, to date, have not been adequately employed.

Key Points
FSRD’s holistic and inclusive methodology includes the following features:

  • Emphasizes long-term development approaches to include prevention, relief, improvement and rehabilitation
  • Implemented in consultation with local communities and other partners
  • Utilizes locally sourced materials and resources
  • Employs culturally appropriate and innovative food solutions
  • Human-centered
  • Economically and technically feasible
  • Sustainable
  • Useful in both long-term development and emergency relief situations

FSRD implementation is multidisciplinary, involving experts in nutrition, product development, food safety, compliance, process engineering and quality control. It also encourages partnerships with governments, the private sector, donors, NGOs, academia and other organizations. In addition, the design and execution of FSRD projects requires the involvement of the intended beneficiaries, particularly women.


Toolkit Resources

IFT’s FSRD Program Objectives

  • Increase awareness of the benefits of food science and technology for development and humanitarian purposes, both in the food science community and the aid industry
  • Encourage the use of food science in low-income countries and areas
  • Food processing should be minimal in these contexts

Benefits of FSRD
The need to incorporate food science and technology into food security efforts is clear:
“There will be a greater need to promote cohesion between FS&T with Nutrition in order to ensure not only low cost, convenience and palatability, but also the requirements for nutritional balance in the whole diet. Because of the focus within the SDGs on agriculture for sustainability and on human biology for diet and health, the need for skills in food science and engineering are hidden” -Lillford and Hermansson 2020
“The benefits of food science innovations have been realized in industrialized nations but not as much in developing countries. This is in part due to limited capability to transform raw food commodities into value-added products, resulting in high losses, which exacerbate food insecurity, malnutrition and poverty. A strong agro-processing industry is needed to help realize these gains. Many organizations are working toward accomplishing this goal.” -Nelson 2007

A UN report states that for “Achieving zero hunger by 2030 will require new and existing applications of STI [Science, Innovation and Technology] across the food system.”

More specifically, the utilization of food science and technology has many benefits including:

History of FSRD - Program Evolution

The application of food science to improve food security began as two training courses on the subject of humanitarian food science and technology (HFST) at the University of Lille in France and Ghent in Belgium in 2014 and 2015. After reflecting on these training courses, it was recommended to organize a larger conference on the subject matter of HFST. At the 2017 Australian Institute for Food Science and Technology the first ever symposium on HFST was held. This meeting brought together a diverse group of stakeholders including UN agencies, academics, NGOs, research institutes, and government officials. From here, an international committee was formed to continue the work discussed at the symposium.

In 2019 the International Division of IFT initiated a program called Elevating Food Systems for Relief and Development using the terminology of FSRD but with the same goals as HFST. This program currently consists of three teams: communications, case study, and organizations liaison.


Get Involved!ThinkstockPhotos-847516586

Interested members can volunteer for our Case Studies Team, which writes up existing recent real-world projects that have resulted in improved food security, enhanced nutrition, economic empowerment, or other benefits through food science and technology.  

The FSRD program welcomes a diverse group of IFT member volunteers from around the world to participate. Please note that you must be a paid-up IFT member.

If you're not a member you can join here.

For more information or to volunteer contact Donna Rosa at



Do I have to be an IFT member to get involved with FSRD?

Yes, as this is an IFT sponsored initiative. We also encourage volunteers to join the International Division for a more complete perspective on the program. There is no charge for IFT members to join the division.

Do I need to have a food science background to be on the Case Studies Team?

A technical background is highly encouraged due to the scientific nature of the case study format, but not mandatory. Strong research and writing skills are also important. 

How does the Case Studies Team work?

Writers work in pairs. We have writing templates, procedures, and a review process. The group meets virtually over Zoom once a month. There is a time commitment of a few hours per month, and we do ask that you be diligent and participate as expected. 

What are the benefits of participating in FSRD?

You’ll learn all about the use and potential of food science to help those in need, and have a ground-level opportunity to contribute to this new and emerging field. Volunteers can also network with others from around the world who are passionate about FSRD.

Other questions? Contact Donna Rosa at

International Division (2)

Learn more about FSRD


Impact Brief - Private Sector Engagement Approaches to Affect Local Food Systems

Bridge Builder

Critical, emerging and enduring issues for food security and nutrition (

Food Processing for Improved Diets (PDF)

Responsible Consumption and Sustainable Diets: The Role of Food Science and Technology in Food Systems Transformation (PDF)

Feeding the World Better

Building a Better World With Food Science

The Food Systems Summit - A call for integrating the role of food science and technology in sustainable food systems (PDF)

Food Science for Relief and Development (FSRD)—An Emerging Area of Food Science

New Program Highlights Untapped Potential of Using Food Science for Relief and Development Initiatives

Humanitarian Food Security Interventions during the COVID-19 Pandemic in Low- and Middle-Income Countries: A Review of Actions among Non-State Actors

Innovations to Humanitarian Food Science and Technology

Solving World Hunger: The Complexity of Simple Solutions

We’re Undervaluing Value Addition: How Ag Processing Will Fortify Food Security, Incomes and Development

The role of food science and technology in humanitarian response

Food science has much to offer humanitarian aid (PDF)


IFT Omnivore, Episode 21: Disruption in the Backseat, Fighting Food Insecurity, Flavor Trends for 2024

Food Disruptors “Food Foundations” podcast series- episodes 10,12,13,16

Fireside Chat – Coping with COVID: Fixing Food Systems in Developing Countries – August 11, 2020 You need to register to listen, but it's free.

Case Studies and Project Spotlights

Empowering Smallholder Women Farmers in Senegal: Development of Bonbon Bouye Nutrition Bar

Kayvey Nutri Foods: Affordable and Nutritious Food Formulas for Cameroonian Children

Expanding Zambian Food Processing - One Entrepreneur’s Story

TALMOND - An African Plant-based Beverage

SoyCow, VitaGoat, and SoyaKit: Small-Size Soy Milk Processing Systems to Reduce Malnutrition and Generate Income

Plumpy’Nut: Synergies between a Pediatrician and Food Scientist

Acceso and Lavi Peanut Butter | An Innovative Community-Based Solution for Acute Malnutrition in Haiti

Extruded Rice Analogs to Fight Hidden Hunger

Mavuno Bora Kenya: Bountifield International Helps Rural Entrepreneurs Provide Postharvest Processing Services to Farmer

Valid Nutrition charity: The successful use of crystallized amino acid technology in new plant based ready-to-use therapeutic food

GrainMate Grain Moisture Meter: Low-Cost Moisture Testing Addresses Mycotoxin Contamination in Ghana (PDF)

The Women’s Bakery (PDF)

Clay Pot Coolers: Preserving Fruits & Vegetables in Mali (PDF)

DehytrayTM: An Innovative Portable Solar Food Dehydrator for Low-Cost Food Preservation (PDF)

Going Green: An Inside Look at Kesho Congo’s Use of Cowpea Leaf Protein Concentrate to Combat Malnutrition

How Using Biofortified Orange-Fleshed Sweet Potato as an Ingredient in Popular Ready-to-Eat Foods is Boosting Nutrition in sub-Saharan Africa

Innovations in Ready-to-Use Food Products to Address Acute Malnutrition in Low-Income Countries

Yoba For Life Probiotic Yogurt

Using Drying Beads to Reduce Food Loss

Blogs and Vlogs

Improving Nutrition and Food Safety Awareness in South Africa through Interactive Package Design

Solar Cookers: A Safer, Cleaner Path to Global Food Security

Winners of the SAAFOST - IFT Infographic Competition Announced: “Making Food Safety Accessible through Infographics”

Can food science tackle food insecurity?

Food Loss and Waste: Sustainable Reduction Strategies for Developing Countries