San Antonio, TX- The Food Marketing Institute (FMI) Foundation in partnership with the Safe Quality Food Institute (SQFI), a division of FMI, awarded 15 academic scholars with the 2019 Food Safety Auditing Scholarship and Education Travel Grant  at the SQF International Conference in San Antonio. 

mg-caption: L to R: Karuna Kharel, Louisiana State University, Yadwinder Rana, Cornell University, Claire Marik, Virginia Tech, Xingchen Liu, University of Maryland, Xingyi Jiang, Florida State University, Daniel Vega, Kansas State University, Ikechukwu Oguadinma, The University of Georgia, Sara Munoz, Texas Tech University, Darvin Cuellar-Milian, Texas Tech University, Sicun Fan, North Carolina State University, Ayodeji Adeniyi, Texas Tech University, Charley Rayfield, Oklahoma State University, James Hearn, Oklahoma State UniversityThe FMI Foundation received more than 53 scholarship applications this year – 24 Ph.D. candidates, 16 pursuing master’s degrees and 13 in their junior and senior university programs. The scholarship recognizes outstanding students enrolled in a university food and agricultural science program who are interested in pursuing a career in food systems auditing. 

“In this era of smarter food shoppers, it is critical the food retail industry has smarter food safety,” said FMI Foundation Executive Director, David Fikes. “More than ever, we need capable food safety auditors with a passion for assuring that secure, high-quality food is produced, packaged, and distributed around the globe. I’m pleased the Foundation can support the next-generation of well-trained auditors, ensuring high standards of food safety for future generations.”  

Senior Vice President of the Safe Quality Food Institute Robert Garfield stated, “Auditors play an integral role in assessing food safety management systems at food and beverage processing facilities across the globe. With the shortage of auditors in the industry, it’s crucial that FMI and SQFI support the growth of experts in a broad range of food categories, and where appropriate promote the development of university or college programs with a specialization in auditing as a career path.”

The recipients of the 2019 FMI Foundation Food Safety Auditing Scholarship are:

  • Ayodeji Adeniyi, Texas Tech University
  • Amanda Chin, University of Massachusetts Amherst
  • Darvin Cuellar-Milian, Texas Tech University
  • Sicun Fan, North Carolina State University
  • James Hearn, Oklahoma State University
  • Xingyi Jiang, Florida State University
  • KarunaKharel, Louisiana State University
  • Xingchen Liu, University of Maryland
  • Claire Marik, Virginia Tech
  • Mariia Melnychuk, Niagara College
  • Sara Munoz, Texas Tech University
  • Ikechukwu Oguadinma, The University of Georgia
  • Yadwinder Rana, Cornell University
  • Charley Rayfield, Oklahoma State University
  • Daniel Vega, Kansas State University

Each winner receives a $3,000 scholarship with an all-expense paid trip to the SQF International Conference to network with more than 850 food safety professionals in attendance. For additional information about the FMI Foundation and the Scholarship program visit For information about Safe Quality Food Institute visit