At City Kidz Food Science Educational Lab, there’s more to ice cream than meets the scoop. Whether it’s learning the behind-the-scenes production process, understanding food science and technology or working to put a product on national stores’ shelves, the lab provides more than just a typical classroom experience.

At City Kidz Food Science Educational Lab, there’s more to ice cream than meets the scoop. Whether it’s learning the behind-the-scenes production process, understanding food science and technology or working to put a product on national stores’ shelves, the lab provides more than just a typical classroom experience.

The ultimate goal is to recruit talented students who can actually comprehend the subject matter of food science and food technology, says Pastor Clinton Bush, co-founder of City Kidz Ice Cream Café, director of the City Kidz Food Science Educational Lab and president of the Springfield Area Merchants and Business Association, Jacksonville, Fla. Students are encouraged to understand how chemistry, biology and calculus are used and applied to food science, whether it’s through research, engineering, formulation, product development, production, nutrition, manufacturing, packaging, biotechnology or computer software.

The City Kidz Food Science Educational Lab National Initiative was created because most students in middle school and high school do not realize that food science and food technology careers exist, says Bush. In fact, from 2005-2010, the U.S. Department of Agriculture, Washington, D.C., reported that there is a shortage of students pursuing careers in food science and food technology industries, he adds. In that mix, African-Americans, Latinos and Native Americans are seriously underrepresented in this industry and at the post-secondary educational level. In an effort to address this problem, the USDA is offering multi-cultural grants to encourage African-Americans, Latinos and Native Americans to consider pursuing an education and career in food science and food technology.  


The lab enforces an extensive strict recruiting process. Students must maintain a minimum 3.5 GPA, must be currently taking advanced placement (AP) or international baccalaureate (IP) honor courses and must complete all homework assignments. Additionally, students must write a 300-word or less essay explaining why they want to be in the program and must participate and complete all lab assignments.

There are currently 21 students enrolled, with an average of 17 students per class. Sixty-five percent of the students attend Stanton College Preparatory School, also in Jacksonville, Fla.

Classroom instruction and curriculum

The City Kidz Food Science Educational Lab is run by college and university professors, as well as food industry professionals, such as ingredient and flavor suppliers, product development, food processing equipment professionals, experts, researchers, co-packers, food manufacturers, national food brands, marketing, branding, media, and more.

The classroom instruction is designed to give students a better understanding of what food science is and how food science plays a major role in every day life. Depending upon the agreed product to be formulated at the lab, commercialization of the City Kidz-branded product determines the course curriculum for that particular semester.

The laboratory

The lab is a collaboration of City Kidz Ice Cream Cafe LLC, Jacksonville, Fla., colleges, universities and food industry leaders and companies. This partnership enables students to apply AP and IB math and science in the marketplace by creating food products to be consumed through national chain grocery stores, supermarkets and club stores.

In addition, a portion of the profits from the products formulated in the lab and sold under the City Kidz brand are transferred to the City Kidz Educational Endowment Fund, which is a scholarship managed by Community Foundation, Jacksonville, Fla., to offset college costs for students.

Putting product on the shelves

One of the components of the City Kidz Food Science Lab is to identify ingredient, flavor, dairy plant, co-packer, production and distribution partners for the City Kidz Viva Vanilla Premium ice cream recipe. By accomplishing this goal, it will position the lab as a national model and help enforce national recruitment efforts.

From a marketing standpoint, Bush believes the students must accomplish their flavor objective. For example, the Viva Vanilla flavor is not just another catchy name; the students chose four natural vanilla extracts to reach their target flavor goal for the premium vanilla ice cream. “However, I believe students may have unknowningly created other niche markets for our flavor Viva Vanilla breakfast syrups, Viva Vanilla cookies and other baked goods,” Bush says.

On May 28, the lab hosted a city-wide sensory taste test of its Viva Vanilla Premium ice cream at the City Kidz Ice Cream Café. Food industry executives, supermarket general managers and vice presidents of private label brands, national food magazine writers, local and regional writers, food critics, chefs and media personalities were invited to be a part of the guest panel and provide feedback on the ice cream.

“This is an opportunity for the City of Jacksonville to rally behind students who have dedicated 12 Saturdays to create something special for our city,” Bush says. “It’s our goal to make sure every student in Duval and surrounding counties get a pint of Viva Vanilla Premium ice cream.”  

National endowment fund

In order to create a national impact, City Kidz plans to move into other markets in spring 2012. The City Kidz Food Science Educational Lab will establish a food science educational lab and curriculum in Philadelphia, Pa., under the leadership of Bush’s brother, Anthony Miles, chief executive officer of City Kidz Ice Cream Café in the Northeast region market. Virginia and Washington, D.C., are also under consideration for spring 2012, and Chicago and Dallas for 2013.

This year though, the goal is to create a national educational endowment fund for students nationally to attend college for food science.

 -  Marina Mayer, Executive Editor

Washington Watch

IDFA Supports U.S. Plan to Resolve Trucking Dispute with Mexico, Progress on U.S.-Colombia Free Trade Agreement

Outlining the need to regain full duty-free access to the U.S. dairy industry’s largest export market, the International Dairy Foods Association, Washington, D.C., strongly supports the proposed cross-border trucking agreement between the United States and Mexico developed by the U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT), also in Washington, D.C. The proposal addresses safety concerns and U.S. compliance with trade obligations to Mexico that will allow the two countries to fulfill their respective obligations under the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA).

Under the terms of the DOT proposal, Mexico and the United States have agreed that 50% of the retaliatory tariffs currently in place will be suspended when the agreement is signed. The remaining 50% will be suspended when the first Mexican carrier is authorized to operate under the pilot program.

Meanwhile, President Barack Obama announced an agreement with Colombia on an action plan to resolve outstanding issues that will clear the way for the U.S.-Colombia Free Trade Agreement to gain official approval from Congress. The agreement was signed in 2006 under the Bush administration, but Congress has yet to vote on it. Until now, the Obama administration refused to push for its approval, citing outstanding issues involving Colombian labor rights.

The value of U.S. dairy exports to Colombia last year was $6 million. The estimated benefit to the U.S. dairy industry over the first several years of an implemented agreement with Colombia would be an additional $25 million in exports per year. Once implemented, the U.S.-Colombia agreement is expected to boost U.S. dairy exports through immediate open and unlimited access for most whey and lactose products, as well as duty-free access for sizable amounts of cheese and skim milk powder, among other dairy products. The United States will achieve additional dairy market access in Colombia as tariffs are ultimately phased out completely.

The agreement will still need to be officially submitted to Congress and ratified for it to take effect. IDFA has strongly supported passage of this free-trade agreement, along with the pending agreements with Korea and Panama.