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By Keely Murdock

The Power of People & Our Fight for Change

This was my first time at Meal Exchange’s National Food Summit, or any summit for that matter. One thing I know for sure, is that I’ll be back. This was
truly one of the best investments I've ever made. 70 students from across 30 campuses for three days at the University of Waterloo to work together for change, and it was powerful.

I’m a student at the University of Windsor, going into my last year in my Bachelor’s of Social Work. I feel that food is a good avenue to make a difference in my community. After all, we all gotta eat! Last year, I helped start our first and only Campus Community Kitchen. It taught me the importance of empowerment. I definitely left Summit feeling empowered. Exhausted, but incredibly empowered and inspired.

It was an action packed weekend. Nowhere else would students get up in the morning to speak with and challenge Vice-President of Chartwells, get their hands dirty learning to make palette boxes for a raised garden in the afternoon, eat a delicious, vegetarian meal in the evening and (if they’re not exhausted and ready for bed) spend the rest of the night continuing conversations of the day with new friends into the wee hours of the morning.

Nowhere else would my years of experience making salad dressings for my family, turn into a chance for me to teach others at the community kitchen meal. That meal, which was delicious and completely vegetarian (almost all vegan) plentifully served 70 people on $50!

We got to taste a bit of everything. From learning about innovative Aquaponics systems, hearing about devastating food insecurity issues in Canada, and touring the University of Waterloo’s Food Bank, community garden, and Farmer’s Market, to learning about the underrated importance of Seed Saving and about various initiatives from the Ministry of Agriculture. All the while, we critically analyzed how we do better as individuals, universities, provinces, and as a nation. I am very grateful to have been a part of, and  contributed to this year’s National Food Summit.

Keely’s Q & A: Some of the questions I had before this year’s summit and my personal answers

1. Do others exist that are just as excited about reshaping our food system as I am?

  • Heck yeah, and then some. The 70 students that attended this conference made me feel hopeful that serious change is possible, maybe inevitable. I learned that some of these incredibly talented people go to my school and I got to connect with those two other University of Windsor students who are also working to make a positive impact on our university's food system. We’re going to work together in the future, and that’s pretty great.

2. Am I working hard enough to make a difference?

  • Honestly, not really and I’m no slouch. The incredible people that I met are motivated, committed, intelligent, driven, leading, and working on these amazing projects all over the country. They have driven me to go back and work harder.

3. Would I recommend other students to go?

  • Let’s put it this way: if it were up to me, the summit wouldn’t be one of those recommended textbooks, but a required one. Yes, you should go.

Finally, I want to extend a heartfelt THANK YOU to Meal Exchange. This dream team worked incredibly hard to produce an epic weekend. You all worked extremely long hours and always had smiles on your faces. Your genuine efforts to empower each of the 70 students and get to know each of us, is inspiring. I hope nothing but success for all of us. Cheers!

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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!

Written by : Kori Liversage

Edited by: Candace Blake

When I pulled up to St. Paul’s college on a beautiful, sunny Thursday, I had no idea what was about to transpire. The welcome desk was adorned with Whole Food’s bags and the entire hallway smelled like a Lush store (I later discovered our Whole Foods bags were full of lovely Lush products, snacks, and informative resources). I was welcomed with a huge hug from Sarah that made me feel like we were long lost friends, though we were just meeting face to face for the first time. She and the entire welcome committee were full of exuberant energy and beautiful smiles, and I knew this weekend was going to be nothing short of spectacular.

Friday morning started with an optional 7am wakeup call to participate in a yoga class taught by one of the attendees, Meredith (if you’re ever in Nova Scotia, check out her class at Moksha!). After experiencing those sweet moments of zen together, it was go time. The conference hall was filled with students from all over Canada, geared up with their healthy breakfasts and journals in tow.  Anita started us off with an uplifting and inspirational opening that set the tone for the rest of the weekend.

Whether it was listening to keynote speakers discuss food insecurity, Indigenous recipes, how to source food locally or seed libraries, or simply just engaging in our questions, everyone’s interests were piqued. The weekend was full of hearty food and even heartier conversation. The momentum overflowed into our breakout sessions where we discussed issues on a deeper level and began to collaborate. These intimate sessions are where the real magic happened. Students discussed issues they face on campus such as conquering a lack of funding for their food bank, establishing a successful farmer’s market on campus, developing community kitchens, and more. I found these sessions the most useful because students who had doubts about what they could do were replenished with hope. It was truly liberating to hear and feel the powerful drive of my peers.

It is incredible to think that students from every province are all fighting for the same thing: a solution for hunger, and equitable food. It’s important for us as student representatives from many Canadian campuses to bring this information to the community and share our newfound knowledge with other students, faculty, and friends. I have learned that if we look at the long run and set small, achievable goals every step of the way – we will see change happen.

There is still much work to be done, and I can only hope that with each year, more people become aware of the food insecurity issues and that there are ways to combat them. I encourage anyone who is interested in food (read: that means you), to get involved. It is time to get educated on where our food comes from, who’s involved in the process of growing the food and getting it onto our plates, the inequality of food nationwide, and how we play into the whole system.

I have to say a big thank you to Meal Exchange for all the work they do and for supporting students who want to start that ripple effect in their respected communities. I am honoured to have had the experience to laugh, share, cook, learn, and grow with the delegates and team of this summit. This is only the beginning. From the University of Ottawa, to BC, and back again, we are here, and we are hungry for change.

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We are excited to be introducing our first speaker.

 

For those of you who attended NSFS 2014, you may be familiar with her. Last year she presented to us over Skype and her session included great insights about the broader food movement and how we can work together to create change. She has been the executive director of Food Secure Canada for over 3 years and her work is centered on supporting social movements around the world, looking at the impacts of Canadian mining companies, and assessing the social and environmental impacts of emerging technologies.

 

Meal Exchange is happy to share that Diana Bronson will be a keynote speaker at the 2015 National Student Food Summit.

 

Diana joined Food Secure Canada as Executive Director in March 2012 and has worked to strengthen FSC as the national voice of the Canadian food movement.  Diana is trained as a political scientist and sociologist and has a professional background in journalism (CBC radio) and international human rights (Rights & Democracy) as well as international climate and technology negotiations at the UN (ETC Group.)

She has participated in many international negotiations on human rights, climate change, technology and sustainable development over the past two decades. She also worked in a senior position on Parliament Hill from 2006-2008. She currently lives and works in Montreal.

Stay tuned to our website for further news this week, and we look forward to seeing you all at the summit!

- MX

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There is so much knowledge within the Meal Exchange network and we’re excited for the Summit to be a platform for learning and sharing across campuses and regions. We invite you to submit a workshop or presentation and encourage you to share this Call for Proposals with peers. Join Joshna Maharaj, Mark Kenny and Diana Bronson and other food movement leaders in our roster of presenters! With an anticipated attendance of 100 students from across Canada, the Summit  offers an exceptional opportunity to share experiences, deepen dialogue, gain access to cutting edge research and ideas, and sharpen our skills in order to advance our collective work.

 

We are seeking students who can share their expertise in a number of areas:

☐ Food Waste

☐ Farmers Markets

☐ Skip a Meal

☐ Epic Failures

☐ Trick or Eat Experiences

☐ Student Hunger and Beyond Campus Food Banks

☐ Campus Gardens

☐ Food Justice & Anti-oppression

☐ Campaign organizing

☐ Other

 

The options for submission formats include:

  • Exploration Gallery: Creative posters, art and videos. A space where Assembly participants will be able to explore on their own photos and other materials (reports, posters, etc.) about your project or organization.

  • Pecha Kucha: 6-7 minute presentation using photos (usually 20 slides for 20 seconds each) to describe your project, research, issue, etc. We will bring together several pecha kucha-style presentations into one time slot. (Learn more about Pecha Kucha’s here)

  • Panel Presentations or Presentations: One presentation or a series of shorter moderated presentations to present key information with time for questions and/or discussion with the audience. We encourage diversity of perspectives within any presentation.

  • Participatory Workshops/Discussions: Facilitated, hands-on, interactive, and focused on discussions, generating ideas, and building skills

     

After all, what better way to continue building on your current work is there than through brainstorming and encouragement of your peers? Provide a “pitch” of the food project you choose to nominate by filling out the following form.

 

Deadline for submission is July 22nd (note to be accepted, you must be registered for the Summit!) We cannot guarantee that all applications will be accepted. However, there will be open space for all topics to be discussed.

For more information about the open call guidelines, feel free to get in touch with us directly at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

We get by with a little help from our friends. Everyday this week, we will be profiling speakers and sponsors (whom we couldn’t host the Summit without), along with exciting updates.

 

To start off this marvelous Monday, Meal Exchange would like to thank the Ryerson Students’ Union Good Food Centre, a Gold Sponsor for this year's National Student Food Summit.


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Thanks to the generosity of the Ryerson Students' Union Good Food Centre, we will be hosting the 12th annual National Student Food Summit at Ryerson University’s Student Centre.

 

The Summit will be held on Thursday, August 20th to Sunday, August 23rd. Tickets for this event include access to our 4 day conference where delegates will create valuable connections and incredible learning opportunities. The conference fee includes nourishing, local, fair and sustainable breakfasts, snacks and lunches catered by the infamous RUeats.  


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About the Ryersons' Student Union Student Centre

Ryerson Students’ Union Student Centre is home to the all student services provided by the Ryerson Students’ Union. The building is owned and operated by and for the students. The building includes Oakham cafe, a pub called Ram in the Rye, meeting rooms, auditoriums and many offices - including the Good Food Centre!

 

About the Good Food Centre

The Good Food Centre, previously known as the Community Food Room, works to reduce the impacts of food insecurity for all Ryerson community members. The GFC runs an on-campus food bank and also runs programs that build skills, promote education and advocate with students on the issue of student poverty.  The Food Centre aims to contribute to the RSU's mission in ensuring equitable access to post-secondary education and building community.  Volunteers play a crucial role in maintaining the daily operations of the centre while also providing rich insights, skills, and experiences. The Food Centre accepts volunteers on an ongoing basis. For more information on the Good Food Centre please visit: https://goodfoodcentre.wordpress.com

 

We would like to once again, thank the Ryerson Students’ Union Good Food Centre for providing this beautiful space for the Summit. Meal Exchange looks forward to seeing you there!

 

Check back in tomorrow for another announcement! 

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REGISTER NOW

 

The registration fee for the 4-day conference is $210, which includes breakfast, lunch and access to wonderful speakers, workshops and sessions. Dinners and accomodations will be separate. Should you have any questions, please feel free to contact This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.  

 

 


 

 

The countdown is on for Meal Exchange's National Student Food Summit. You can register here to reserve your spot at Canada's national conference for student food leaders Thursday, August 20th - Sunday, August 23rd. What a better way to end your summer then by attending the National Student Food Summit.

 

About the Summit

The Meal Exchange National Student Food Summit is Canada's largest student food leadership retreat. Students from across Canada come together to share experience, connect with experts and work with the Meal Exchange network to build mroe just and sustainable food systems on their own campuses and across Canada. 

"The best part of working with Meal Exchange and attending the Summit has been the vast amount of resources I have been able to tap into, including the energies, passions, and expertise of peers." - Student from Trent University.

We happy to share with you that registration is now open! Head on over to Uniiverse to check out the details and book now!

 

Need some of support getting to the summit? Be sure to look at our fundraising post from last year. Meal Exchange can support you with letters of support and tips on how to make your way to the Summit. If you have any questions or need some help, you can contact This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

 

Recently, we have been working hard to secure the best speakers, panels and workshops during your stay in Toronto. A big thanks to everyone who filled out the Student Survey! Your feedback was greatly appreciated and helped us understand what students want to see at this year’s Summit! Follow us on Facebook, Twitter #NSFS2015 and studentfoodsummit.ca for regular updates and posts regarding NSFS 2015. We hope you are as excited as we are!

 

In good food for all,

The Meal Exchange Team