Blog posts tagged in Local Food

We're happy to share an update from the University of Manitoba Meal Exchange Chapter Coordinator, Abigail! 


Dear Friends and Colleagues at Meal Exchange,

We are happy to share the recent activities CFSG has been involved with at the University of Manitoba

Farmers' Market Visit


This June, in collaboration with the Office of Sustainability and UofM Students’ Union Community Garden, we were able to host a bike ride to St. Norbert Farmer’s Market. There are a variety of interesting and unique products sold at the market, but the best part about it is the opportunity to meet local farmers from Manitoba and learn about their efforts to maintain food sustainability.


 Umanitoba Food Website

Online Foodie Hub

We are also glad to share that CFSG is in the process of launching its official website by August 2015. We would like to thank other coordinators for sharing their experiences in website development with us. The purpose of our website will be to provide a central hub of information for students who want to learn more about sustainable food practices at the UofM. It will feature an about section, activities and events section, and a resources (including food venues, courses on food, food map, research, and nutrition/recipes) section." 


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Meal Exchange staffer, Michael Waglay, was able to catch up with Jaida Regan who just graduated from Dalhousie University. Here is the story of her rich campus life: 

Could you tell me about your first experience or encounter with Meal Exchange?


My first encounter with Meal Exchange was two years ago, when Lars, Owen and Hillary worked for Meal Exchange. They hosted a roundtable event to let people know about food services at Dalhousie and their future directions; I attended that event.


What was your impression of Meal Exchange when you started?


I got the impression that it was an open venue for students to get to know about campus food systems. It seemed open enough to allow for any ideas or concepts you wanted to work on on campus and they allow you to run with it.


Could you walk me through how you became involved in the Meal Exchange program at Dal?


At Dalhousie we didn’t have a Meal Exchange chapter, but we had a Campus Food Strategy Group, and it has Coordinator positions. I applied for one of those. I knew Sami Luke, who had the position before me, so I was familiar with the idea. I got the position and met Caitlin Colson, who worked at Meal Exchange. Caitlin supported me in running with the idea of the “campus as a living lab” for a project in my Sustainability Degree, where we worked on using reusable containers on campus; I was excited to work on that through the position. We’re still working on this project, but it is a really exciting process!


What would you say are some of your accomplishments on your campus? 

What’s unique about Dal is that there are several student-led food initiatives: there’s the community garden, the farmers’ market, the Loaded Ladle, our food bank, and the food strategy group, so I think the role of the campus food strategy group is to “raise the voices higher” of those groups--- not raise the voices higher, what’s another word for that…




Yeah, there you go! You know. The Campus Food Strategy Group helps people become aware of all the food issues on campus. One of the major accomplishments of the group was having almost all local food served at Orientation Week last year, something we’re planning to do again this upcoming O-week as well.

We developed a food board policy--- we’ve gotten all of members within the group excited about it, but now it will have to pass through council. We have a new student union executive too, so we’re starting to work with them.  

We also worked with the Ecology Action Centre, and we hosted a food policy workshop, which was really cool. We had students from all different universities like King’s College, and Mount Saint Vincent; students who study nutrition and others in social sciences and food policy. It was great to have an interdisciplinary group working together on these kinds of issues. We also worked with NSPIRG to host a film as part of the Cinema Politica series.

We got a paid position under the Dalhousie Students’ Union to do survey research to figure out what students think about food services and what direction it should go in. We also got a permanent position under Sustainability Office at Dal, which is the position I have. The positions have allowed us to ensure that we are able to transition to new students to get great work done.

How did connecting with Meal Exchange shape your university experience?

It shaped my experience considerably. I already had an interest in food, and my degree is in Sustainability and Political Science, so I kind of wanted to put a twist on it and focus on food policy. Being part of this program helped me decide to do my undergrad thesis on the Alternative Campus Food System at Dalhousie University.

Meal Exchange helped make me more aware of food issues--- this awareness led me to join the Food Action Committee of the Ecology Action Centre. It was nice that it wasn't just student-based, and it was a great place to meet different kinds of people to discuss different bills as they go through the government, like the issue around the Wheat Board.

Because of Meal Exchange, I also decided to do my graduate research on food waste in Canada. I’ll be studying this issue through my Masters in Geography at Guelph University starting this fall.


How will you continue working on social justice and environmental sustainability in the future?


I’m really interested in social justice and environmental justice, especially through food. Actually, I just visited the Guelph campus today and I already went to OPIRG to see what kind of programs they have to do with food. They have a Food Not Bombs Chapter, so I’d be interested in getting involved there. Right now it is not necessarily an occupation for me, but ongoing research. I’m also eager to continue volunteering my time with the Food Secure Canada Youth Caucus.

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After three years of connecting with the Meal Exchange network, Amy Brierly reflects on her experiences and shares how she'll continue to apply what she's learned in the future. 


When did you first connect with Meal Exchange?
The 2012 National Student Food Summit, right before I took on the role of Student Food Resource Coordinator at StFX. The National Student Food Summit was recommended to me by the past Student Food Resource Coordinator. The Summit was transformational. It helped me feel connected to something bigger and to know that students were making real changes on their campuses. The Summit helped to prepare and fuel me for my work on campus - I’ve gone back to the Summit every year since!

What are some of your accomplishments on your campus?
Each of the accomplishments achieved on campus were a group effort - made possible by a foundation built by my peers, community members, and the Meal Exchange network. The main accomplishment for me has definitely been building a better food system through collaboration. Through this collaboration we have seen many benefits, including the development of a Farmers’ Market on campus and moving the Student Food Resource Centre to a more accessible and welcoming space on campus.

How did connecting with Meal Exchange shape your university experience?
Meal Exchange has provided me with a safe space to share ideas and feel supported. The Meal Exchange network has helped me practice and shape my understanding of development, which is what I studied during my university career. Through my work with Meal Exchange, I’ve seen that as a student, my role extends far past the classroom and that I have the opportunity to make significant change on campus and within my community.

How will you continue food work into the future?
I was recently given a wonderful opportunity to be an OceanPath Fellow with the Pathy Family Foundation and Coady Institute. Through this fellowship I will be working with community groups in Antigonish who are working in the local food movement, specifically around a local food hub. I’m excited to hopefully bring what I’ve learned on campus into closer conversation with the larger movement and to collaborate on all sorts of initiatives with the community. My ties with St. FX will be important in this work, especially for supporting institutional procurement of local foods.

How would you like to continue to contribute to Meal Exchange in the future?
While I stay in Antigonish, I look forward to providing support to new student leaders, facilitate community connections, and stay in touch with the national office. Though I’m not sure what the future holds, I’d to continue to be apart of this movement indefinitely.

We wish Amy all the best in her next adventures and for her contributions to St. FX, Antigonish and the National Meal Exchange network.

Meal Exchange Supports Bill C-539 to help create a federal strategy to support local food procurement in all federal institutions. Bill C-539 encourages the government to create a nation-wide buy-local strategy and establish a procurement policy for all federal institutions. By creating a framework that favors local food products, we can support Canadian producers, create jobs, reduce pollution resulting from transportation, and support resilient Canadian food systems.

4 Reasons why we support this bill:

  1. Citizens and residents of Canada who buy local food support our farmers, our agricultural industry and our economy;
  2. Buying local food cuts down on transportation and greenhouse gas emissions, keeps local dollars in local economies and strengthens regional supply chains;
  3. Buying local means that producers have stable markets and that Canadians can have access to fresh and nutritious food; and
  4. Federal departments and agencies should lead by example and support Canadian farmers by buying local food.

For these reasons, Meal Exchange is supporting a national strategy to promote local food. We believe it is important to support our farmers and our local food products.

Read more about why the Canadian Federation of Agriculture supports Bill C-539. If you share these views, click here to sign a petition to show your support.