The Department of Food Science at the University of Massachusetts was officially founded on April 27, 1918, and is generally recognized as the first food science department in the nation. Beginning with a suggestion in January 1913 from the Head of the Department of Horticulture, Frank A. Waugh, and supported by his fellow pomologist Fred Sears, Walter W. Chenoweth developed a new course of study from scratch, learning and standardizing many of the techniques of food preservation himself while teaching. Originally called the Department of Horticultural Manufacturing, the department's faculty made significant contributions to ensuring a safe food supply during both World Wars and have been a leading center for research and education in food science ever since.
Chenoweth and Carl R. Fellers, who arrived in 1925, established the department's reputation as a vigorous center for research, and during the 1940s and 1950s, the department was responsible for more than half of the doctorates issued by UMass Amherst. After Fellers became head of the Department in 1941, it shifted emphasis from domestic food preservation to industrial, changing its name in 1944 to the Department of Food Technology to reflect that shift. It was renamed again in 1962 as the Department of Food Science and Technology, to reflect changes in the Department itself and in recognition of the importance of the basic sciences to the food industry. It is the parent of the Department of Hotel, Restaurant and Travel Administration, which became its own department in 1969.