By: Avery Konda
Hosted at the incredible St. Paul’s University College in Waterloo, the Meal Exchange team brought together more than 70 student representatives, council/association representatives, full time staff advisors, and other likeminded individuals who wanted to gain more knowledge on the importance of food insecurities, and the promotion of real foods on institutional campuses.
As President at the Georgian College Students’ Association (GCSA) for the Georgian College Barrie Campus, I was not fully prepared for how informed and educated I would become over the course of the 3 day conference. Each session was refined, succinct, and involved each participant as much as possible. The presenters involved organizations such as The Bauta Family Initiative on Canadian Seed Security and University of Toronto. Additionally, Food Secure Canada’s Youth Caucus provided an engaging and youth centric view on food issues on campuses.
My most memorable experience was the community kitchen that everyone at the conference attended. With $50, and donations from local farmers, we were able to co-create an entire dinner meal for everyone. It showed me how easy it can be to eat healthy, local, and inexpensively if you know the right contacts and work with the community.
The National Student Food Summit prepared me with an action plan and vast new network of contacts that share a common vision of reducing food insecurities on campus, and improving on local, fresh foods in institutions.
I will be recommending next year’s conference to anyone that I can!