Gustine Food Science

Gustine FFA’s food sciences team placed 14th in the national competition held recently at the National FFA Convention in Indianapolis. From left are adviser Matt Baffunno, team members Nicole Moitozo, Camille Alamo, Marco Marsigli, Selina Lopes and coach Harley Brinkman. 

Gustine FFA’s state-champion food sciences team recently competed in the national finals in Indianapolis.

The four-member team of Selina Lopes, Nicole Moitozo, Marco Marsigli and Camille Alamo placed 14th out of 36 state teams competing at the National FFA Conference in October.

The food sciences competition involved a number of elements, including development of a product, creation of a food safety report in which teams evaluated sanitation standards in various scenarios simulating plant conditions.

Rigorous tests were also part of the competition.

The product development portion of the competition involved actually building a product, adviser Matt Baffunno explained.

The Gustine team developed a popcorn-based snack, complete with packaging and label with nutritional information.

Gustine’s “Poppin’ Pouch” snack earned the second-highest score in the product development category.

“Our kids got great compliments on their product development,” Baffunno noted, adding that the team did not realize going in they they would have to actually build a product.

That wasn’t the only change from the state level.

“There was a math section that was very difficult and also new, and the test that they had is completely different than we did at state,” he said.

Lopes came home with a gold medal from the event, meaning that she placed individually in the top one-third of all competitors.

Gustine was the first California team to compete at the national level, Lopes said, and as such had no other Golden State teams to turn to for information on what to expect.

“I think we were well-prepared,” she commented. “For what we knew, I thought we did well.

“It was very eye-opening,” Lopes added. “Now when I see food packaging in the store, I am paying attention to all the different things I didn’t even notice before.”

“It was a lot of fun,” Moitozo said. “We had a great time with our team, and the competition.”