Blog posts tagged in World Food Day

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With great difficulty - Wayne is a wealth of information about all things food. But I'll try to relay the highlights of last week's FoodShare event that also featured speakers and inspiration from food movement leaders and thinkers Debbie Field of FoodShare, Jeff Westman of California Farmlink, and Tony Winson from the University of Guelph. The panel was moderated by Donna Tranquada of the inspiring Food and Water First Initiative.

Some food for thought to take away:

Industrial Food - It’s in our fields...and also in our heads

Since World War II, our food system has seen significant shifts toward industrialization - from planting to processing to the time it reaches our plates, the food we eat is significantly mechanized and relies heavily on machinery. We’re not just eating this type of food though, we’re thinking and living this food culture. As Wayne Robert’s explains, the mechanization of food has stretched beyond our fields and plates. We’ve adopted an industrial food mentality and culture too. The way society is relating to food is increasingly instrumental, looking for a quick fix for nutrition, or fast fuel for the day. Eating a granola bar on the run might be a quick fix for hunger, but it’s really treating food as an afterthought; a means to an end.

The more we can relate to food as it provides holistic nourishment (mental and physical), builds community, and connects us to place, the more we can benefit from what whole food has to offer. As Tony Winson assures us, there is an alternative - food can be slow, whole, and not only draw from our environment, but also nourish the land and communities from which it grows.

What’s more, while bad food is connected to mental health issues, good food can offer support for positive mental health.

Our disconnected and nutrient-poor food system is connected to more than poor nutrition and bad eating habits; it’s also been linked to mental health issues. While mental health effects are less obviously visible, they are as profound as the physical health problems that result from bad food. Our minds and bodies alike require nourishment from whole, connected foods. Centred on values of empowerment and connection, the alternative food movement presents eaters with healthy, nutritious foods as well as opportunities to create relationship-rich food systems that reflect personal values and connect people to surrounding places, cultures, and environments.

Hopeful models for change are making their mark

Despite the deep rooted complications and the vast reach of the mainstream food system, alternatives and solutions-oriented approaches to healthier food systems are growing up all around us. Cuba and Brazil are exemplary models that are effectively addressing hunger by working with their communities and providing services that offer healthy and accessible foods. FoodShare’s Debbie Field assures us that within the “belly of the beast” an alternative food system is being built that is bridging new relationships and equitable exchanges between producers and consumers. Programs that are intervening from early ages, like school nutrition programs and farm visits, are reconnecting the next generation to sources of food, nutritional values, and community-based food systems at a critical age.

Overall, it was a great event that left everyone with a lot to think about. There are a lot of exciting things happening in the food movement, and it's important to remember that although change is slow, even small actions, choices, and dialogues can positively impact our food system.

If you’re looking for a deeper dive into these types of questions and solutions, pick up a copy of Wayne Roberts’ No Nonsense Guide to World Food.

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As a national organization working to get youth involved in food issues, Meal Exchange's vision is a country where everyone has access to affordable, healthy, sustainable, and socially just food. We are marking World Food Day 2013 with a reflection of how our programs fit on the intersection of food sustainability and social justice.

National Student Food Summit

The National Student Food Summit (NSFS) is an annual 3-day conference bringing youth from across Canada on campus-related food issues. By bringing together multiple sectors including government, academics, non-profit organizations, food industry, and more; students are provided with authentic youth leadership development, networking opportunities and a platform to share ideas and strategies.  Strong parallels can be made to the focus of  World Food Day as the Summit aims to provide its delegates with practical solutions to food systems change on campus while profiling students as leaders within the broader food movement.

For more details and info, visit

National Student Food Charter

The National Student Food Charter offers a set of values created by students for students to drive food systems work on Canadian campuses. The Charter can be used to guide programming on campus, to create student engagement, or to advocate for campus commitments to Charter principles through policy commitments. In line with the message of World Food Day, we believe that "Healthy food systems are made possible by appropriate policies, incentives and governance." If you're interested in how the Charter can be a tool for you to support better food governance on campus, check out our resources online.

Campus Food Systems Project

The Campus Food Systems Project (CFSP) is building the student movement to get more local, sustainable food onto Canadian campuses. The CFSP supports students to improve their campus' food system by setting up hands-on learning opportunities through applied student research, multi-stakeholder organising, working with community partners and broad student engagement around food systems issues. With a history of innovation, leadership, and the renewable resource of students, campuses offer fertile grounds for modelling sustainable food systems for the entire food cycle. The CFSP has worked directly on 12 campuses to date and is excited to be providing resources for campuses across the country.

The Meal Exchange Chapter Network

Meal Exchange's Chapter Network consists of 20 student chapters on campuses across Canada where students come together to develop innovative student solutions to local food system problems. Meal Exchange chapters are excited to use World Food Day to lend an international emphasis on the work that they are doing on campus. Typical chapter programming focuses on the social justice aspect of the food system, and involves mass-engagement anti-hunger and anti-poverty events, such as Trick or Eat. World Food Day's focus on Social Justice and Sustainability allows chapters to both highlight their traditional programming, as well as new programming and ideas focused on developing sustainable food systems.

Trick or Eat

Trick or Eat is a national food drive where costumed youth and community members go door to door collecting non-perishable food items to donate to their local food banks and community agencies. Through Trick or Eat, Meal Exchange is redefining Halloween as a day of giving where communities and youth to give back to those in need and raise awareness about hunger in communities across Canada. The Trick or Eat campaign is dedicated to addressing the mission of World Food Day by educating and supporting young people concerned about and affected by hunger. The campaign is designed to not only connect youth to the issues of hunger in their community, but also to provide them with direct opportunities to plan and lead their individual campaigns, ensuring that they can become leaders in their community on the issue of hunger in Canada.

To get involved in your community visit

If you have questions about any of our programs or would like to get involved, send us a note at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. !

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