University of California President Janet Napolitano today (Sept. 4) announced the first partners to provide matching funds for the UC Global Food Initiative Student Fellowship Program.

Craig McNamara, president and owner of walnut-producing Sierra Orchards, and his wife, Julie, will donate $7,500 to the fellowship program. They also have reached out to others, seeking to match funds committed in July by the UC Office of the President to support student-generated research, related student projects or internships focused on food issues.

Joy Sterling, CEO of Iron Horse Vineyards, and Chez Panisse owner Alice Waters and the Edible Schoolyard Project also have each committed $2,500 to the fellowship program.

“We are pleased and honored that these industry leaders have stepped up to support UC’s fellowship program, which will address critical food issues facing California, the nation and the world,” Napolitano said. “We hope to see others in the agricultural and food industry come forward to partner with the University of California.”

The fellowship program was first announced in July as part of UC’s new food initiative, which seeks to harness the university’s resources to sustainably and nutritiously feed a world population expected to reach 8 billion people by 2025.

The UC Office of the President provided $7,500 to each UC campus, the Division of Agriculture and Natural Resources, and the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory. Fellowships will be awarded to both undergraduate and graduate students, with funds allotted at each campus’s discretion in three $2,500 portions.

“I’m thrilled to work with the University of California and be part of their Global Food Initiative,” McNamara said. “UC graduates will help lead our state and nation in developing food policy that is critical to California’s economy.”

During Napolitano’s presentation to the California State Board of Food and Agriculture in July, McNamara, the board’s president, encouraged agriculture and food industry leaders to provide financial support for the fellowship program.