Long-time leader of UNL’s Food Processing Center retiring after 43 years
Jill Gifford, manager of the Food Entrepreneur Program with the University of Nebraska-Lincoln’s Food Processing Center, is retiring May 31 after a 43-year career.
In her role, Gifford has advised hundreds of food entrepreneurs on selling everything from pasta sauce to jams.
“I started working at the Dairy Store in high school,” Gifford said on UNL’s website. “A year after I started college at UNL, I was offered the Dairy Store manager position. It was a godsend because it paid for my tuition.”
Gifford graduated with a dual major in business and advertising.
Gifford joined the Food Processing Center when it was established in 1983, and in 1994, she moved to the center’s National Food Entrepreneur Program. She became the manager of the program a year later. In 2010, she began coordinating the FPC’s public food science and business workshops.
“Jill has been an integral contributor to the success of the FPC,” Terry Howell Jr., Food Processing Center executive director, said. “Her National Food Entrepreneur Program was the first of its kind, inspiring many others across the country. She has supported countless people who have been able to pursue their dreams of starting a food business.”
Gifford’s career included a trip to Tanzania as part of a grant to assist a local university in establishing its food center.
“Jill has been a constant, faithful presence serving small food manufacturers in Nebraska and beyond,” said Curt Weller, department head for Food Science & Technology. “She’s been the instrumental force driving our entrepreneurial program, which has served as a model for other centers.”