The ISU Innovation Consulting Community (ICC) is an interdisciplinary project professional development opportunity for ISU students. Participating students consult with a real organization where they must apply collaboration skills and critical thinking to provide recommendations to the client. Each consulting team is staffed with a variety of student majors that are relevant to the project objective and complete a comprehensive report with recommendations for the client.  

For the past three years, Illinois State University ICC student teams have tackled challenging projects for their client Jewel-Osco. The first year’s project focused on identifying potential community engagement ideas such as school garden programs, in-store signage ideas to further highlight locally produced food, and identifying emerging innovative food companies to collaborate with. 

The second year’s team focused on a feasibility study to evaluate launching a Food Truck at ISU that could be run by family & consumer sciences students. The truck could be described as a “classroom on wheels,” and Jewel-Osco could sponsor it. The food truck concept would provide actual restaurant experience to food and nutrition management students tasked with establishing the menu, maintaining ingredient inventory, and preparing to-go lunch orders. 

In the current academic year, a student team comprised of majors from marketing (focus in analytics and integrated marketing communications), financial economics, and business administration is identifying meal planning and food preparation methods to help shoppers have healthier diets and to strengthen their social bonds. Those students are Rowena-Reneé Xymines, Kylie Petersen, Nichola Racey, Sarah Hastings, Alex Bebenek, and Alanna Veytsel.

Anthony Suggs ’04, senior vice president of marketing and merchandising at Jewel-Osco said, “As a graduate of ISU I’m proud of the strong partnership and believe that the experience the students gain from the ICC will enrich their future employment.”   

Separate from the ICC collaboration, ISU classes have also engaged with Jewel-Osco on marketing projects and ingredient innovation for the grocery chains’ deli produced food. In 2020, in appreciation for the ICC’s work, the Jewel Osco Foundation made a generous donation to the program. 

The ICC for 2020-2021 has 15 consulting projects with 90 students from 30 sub-disciplines across campus. For students who missed an internship opportunity during summer 2020 or simply wish to explore a new area, their ICC participation provides an excellent professional experience to share with future employers or graduate schools while providing a valuable service for their clients. More on the ICC can be found here.