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Hi everybody, my name is Matt, and I’m thrilled to join the Meal Exchange National Office as the Campaigns, Communications, and Chapter Coordinator! I’ve been involved in community engagement and campaign building building for a several years, and am very excited to bring this experience and passion to Meal Exchange.

Matt in an apron

I first got engaged with issues around food accessibility and security while pursuing my teaching degree at Brock University, supporting a community garden project as well as a campus-wide initiative to bring healthy, local, and affordable food options to the campus. Through this experience I was deeply impressed and inspired by the drive of students involved involved with the campaign, and realized how forceful and transformative student led movements can be.

 

While completing my MBA at McMaster University I had the opportunity to volunteer at a refugee centre in Toronto, teaching English and working one-on-one with newcomers to help them develop social roots in the city. I also, at the same time, volunteered as a food preparer and server at a Toronto soup kitchen. Through these experiences I learned how central issues of food security and affordability are to the lives of marginalized communities, and how important food can be as a catalyst for community mobilization. As a universal human experience, food provides a central point around which people can organize and work together.

  

I’m absolutely delighted to join the Meal Exchange team. The opportunity to work with motivated and passionate students on a cause I deeply believe in is a truly exciting prospect, and the folks in the MX National Office are a dynamic and inspiring team. I’m very enthusiastic to work with my colleagues and our student campaigners to create a food system that provides good food for all.

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RootsI’ve been thinking a lot about roots lately… specifically, those of vascular plants. Roots are incredible plant organs that are so connected to the world around them. Roots create nourishing environments by adapting and contributing to the spaces around them. Roots sense what’s coming next, help others flourish and are the reason we gain so many nutrients from each bite of good food. As roots of our favourite veggies start to grow in many directions for the season, I am too, and I wanted to write you all a personal note of my growth plans.

 

You might be wondering why I’ve been thinking about these sub-terrestrial organs. Well, I’ve been thinking about roots for a few reasons. One reason is because I am going to be working with roots a lot in the next little while. This summer, I will be working with roots and shoots of many plants at The New Farm and next year I will be joining the Isaac Agroecology Lab at the University of Toronto for a Master’s in Science. This means that over the summer I will be away from my desk at Meal Exchange and will be back part-time in the Fall!   

The second reason I’ve been thinking about roots is because as I transition from being a full-time MX staff,  I’ve been reflecting on the impact that Meal Exchange has had on my life. Through my internal reflections and conversations with those who have been impacted by MX, I have found roots a worthy metaphor for the depth, connection and nourishment that Meal Exchange brings to this world.

 SarahFarm

Roots grow wide, far beyond the visible portion of the tree. This is similar to the wide-reaching impact that Meal Exchange has far beyond the boundaries of our downtown office or a campus event. During my time at Meal Exchange, I have been able to visit over 30 of our Chapter campuses and connect with the most incredible changemakers in Canada. Meal Exchange has connected me to passionate students from St. John’s Newfoundland to Vancouver Island, and communities from N.W.T. to Hawaii! Meal Exchange roots are full of inspiration, resources and programs that create connections between thousands of incredible people.

 

Roots grow deep and break new ground. Meal Exchange’s programs, people and perspective on learning have had a profound impact on my life. MX is an organization that fosters curiosity, multiple perspectives and bold humility which have created conditions for some of the most important conversations of my life. From conversations with MX students in a garden, to learning from an elder at the Real Food Challenge B.C. Retreat, to sitting down with new friends at the National Student Food Summit, Meal Exchange has created conditions for me and so many others to feel welcome to share, question and grow.

 

Roots contribute to nourishing plants and fruits.  I have made countless friendships through my work with Meal Exchange and have seen each of them be similarly supported by MX and share that support with others. In my four years working with MX, I’ve seen ideas for projects become real. I’ve seen those projects become models to inspire others and contribute to a greater impact than ever imagined.  Together, we have created beautiful fruits in the shape of Farmers’ Markets, gardens, volunteer events, ground-breaking campus food procurement policy change and new communities around good food for all.

Grou HugAt Meal Exchange, we are able to create the change we need to see in the world. We are shifting systems and building new ones. We are making mistakes and we’re learning from them. We are hearing new voices and making new friends. We are being the people we want to be, more and more each day.

I feel so grateful to be connected in the breadth, depth and nourishment of the Meal Exchange root-web. This summer, I’ll be working more closely with these physical, sub-terranean organs, but I know that I will still (and always) be connected to the incredible work of Meal Exchange and I hope you know that you will too. To the Meal Exchange network, I hope you know that I’m rooting for you!

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b2ap3_thumbnail_Screen-Shot-2013-02-14-at-4.42.26-PM.pngFor any student interested in a short-term volunteer opportunity that makes a huge difference in sustainable campus purchasing, consider applying to join the Student Standards Committee!

 

Meal Exchange is seeking a team of students from across Canada to join the Student Standards Committee (SSC), Round 2.  The SSC will refine standards for campus purchasing across Canada.  Please visit our website at this link for more information, and please forward to all student networks.

 


Applications will be accepted on a rolling basis until January 29th. Please send a cover letter to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. .

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2016 was full of surprises.

At Meal Exchange, 2016 was full of incredible accomplishments and impact. Read on to see our countdown of 2016 highlights! 

Over $300,000 worth of food was collected through Trick or Eat to support 85 food agencies across Canada. 5000 youth were involved in their community and 87% of them will continue to volunteer throughout the year.
85 from 35 campuses attended the National Student Food Summit to share ideas, skills, and hopes for building more just and sustainable food systems
We launched the Real Food Challenge Canada with 6 pilot campuses, 35 advisors, and a team of 30 students. All are involved in understanding where food is coming from on campuses and how we can shift $1 billion of campus food purchases in North America towards fair, humane, community-based and ecological food sources.

We conducted the largest cross-campus student food insecurity report: ‘Hungry for Knowledge’. We found alarming rates of food insecurity within student populations and are working to find solutions to end student poverty in 2017.

We provided meaningful job opportunities for 25 students from across Canada to gain experience working in an organization that fosters community building, innovation, and personal development.

We hosted our first west coast conference to connect students across B.C., provide ally-ship training, and launch the committee on indigenous food sovereignty and the ‘decolonizing the table’ book club.
We supported 7 campus gardens to grow and flourish -  they grew well over 20,000 pounds of organic and sustainable food and employed more than 15 young growers.
The media listened. From Maclean’s magazine and the Toronto Star to local newspapers and radio stations, Meal Exchange was in the media more than 50 times this year, and we presented at over 10 conferences to share the voice of the Meal Exchange Network and your work!
We wrote a cookbook and supported the growth and development of 5 campus community kitchens.
We reached over 100,000 students on communities across Canada to make a difference through the power of food. 
 

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"I believe that food is a way to positively make an impact and tackle many of the issues that we are faced with today. From climate change and civil unrest to water quality and poverty, food impacts people’s lives every day. Meal Exchange uses the power of food to inspire young people to build communities that are healthy – for people, planet, and place." -- Sarah Archibald

Meal Exchange staff are passionate and ambitious. Sarah, our Operations, Program and Opportunities Manager was interviews on the Cilantro Cooks Blog. Read on to learn more about why Sarah loves Meal Exchange and the future she sees for the student food movement.

 

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Hi everyone! My name is Merryn, and I’m so excited to join the MX national team as the new program coordinator! I first became passionate about food systems when I volunteered in Thanksgiving food drives with my parents. During my undergraduate degree, I became engaged in bringing local, healthy food to the McMaster University campus through the Farmstand. While working at the nutrition department of the Hamilton Family Health Team, I was able to see first-hand how those living on a low-income faced challenges when trying to maintain a healthy diet, which ultimately impacted their ability to be fully engaged in work and at school.

 

 Merryn 1

 

During my Masters in Public Health, I volunteered at the campus food bank at the University of Waterloo. I realized that students were dealing with some of the same food security issues I had seen in my neighbourhood, and conducted my thesis research on the experience of undergraduate student food insecurity. Through these experiences, I’ve discovered that food can be a rallying point for people to gather around community and neighbourhood issues. I’m really interested in researching the connection between food insecurity and health in Canada, particularly among students!

 

Merryn 2.jpg

 

Meal Exchange is an amazing organization to be a part of, because I get to interact with you passionate people, and work on campus food issues. My colleagues and our student volunteers inspire me, and make me excited to come to work each day! I can’t wait to work together to build a more just and sustainable food system.

Merryn 3

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kaitlynKaitlyn Fraser, Real Food Challenge Researcher and Campus Coordinator at UVic, shares her experience with Meal Exchange this summer, from intensive research to fun weekends at the BC Summer Retreat.  This post can also be found in UVic's Department of Sociology Newsletter, Volume I Issue II (Fall 2016) on page 8.

I spent my time this summer with a wonderful organization, Meal Exchange (http://mealexchange.com), as their UVic Real Food Campus Coordinator. With the support of food services on campus, I was successful in auditing $35,000 worth of food purchased in February 2016 by UVic for the Mystic Market dining hall. Using Meal Exchange’s Real Food Guide and Calculator, I was able to determine the percentage of this food that can be considered “real” (community based, ecologically sustainable, socially just, and humane). I was also able to attend Meal Exchange’s BC Retreat in Nanaimo where I met students from across Canada who share a passion for improving food on post-secondary campuses. We heard from various speakers on a variety of different topics relating to the food system including Indigenous Food Sovereignty, aquaponics, and temporary migrant workers. We also toured various farms around Nanaimo, helping with a few daily tasks on the farm as a form of sweat equity. This summer was a breath of fresh air and has relit my passion for challenging our current global food system. This fall I will be completing the research for my MA thesis where I attempt to unravel my food consumption choices and the tensions and confusions that come with aligning these choices with my personal beliefs around social justice, equality, and environmental sustainability. I will also be helping to establish a Meal Exchange chapter at UVic and encourage anyone who is interested in joining to get in touch ( This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. ). ~ Katie Fraser

 

uhaFall Reflection; Summer Success

As we get into the chilly fall season, we'd like to take a minute to reflect on our successes of the summer.  One unprecedented success was the first-ever B.C. Summer Retreat.  With support from the Underwater Harvesters Association, the City of Nanaimo, the B.C. Dairy Association, the Real Estate Foundation of B.C., Vancity and the Vancouver Foundation and many other supporters, Meal Exchange hosted the B.C. Summer Retreat this past August in Nanaimo, B.C. for post-secondary students passionate about working for just, humane and sustainable food systems through the Real Food Challenge. 

Meal Exchange is so thankful for the support of the Underwater Harvesters Association

The Underwater Harvesters Association (UHA) is a non-profit organization aligning geoduck clam license holders across the BC coast. As an indigenous species with slow maturation rates, special care must be taken to maintain the sustainability of the geoduck fisheries. The UHA, and its members, work hard to meet and succeed standards.  Divers do more than simply harvest geoduck; in conjunction with the Canadian government, and important stakeholders, contractors conduct regular testing of water quality, surveys of wild populations, and collect data to analyze and determine the most sustainable practices. The UHA is also actively seeking to supplement the geoduck population by seeding appropriate habitats. They set precedent with their innovative approach which holds the viability of the ocean as paramount, while ensuring the security of their partners, and the safety of their customers.

Meal Exchange and the UHA: Partners in Creating Sustainable Food Systems

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Meal Exchange and the UHA were first introduced back in 2009 when Celia White, now a Meal Exchange employee, began working with the UHA as a deckhand on a geoduck boat.  She saw first-hand how dedicated the industry is to creating sustainable seafood systems and working with First Nations to co-manage the geoduck resource.

 

 

sustainable seafood uha

The UHA and the B.C. Summer Retreat

The Underwater Harvesters Association has been indispensable in the planning of the first-ever B.C. Retreat. Through their support, Meal Exchange was able to make the Retreat accessible to dozens of participants across B.C. and include content on sustainable seafood, including a hands-on workshop about aquaponics greenhouses.  Meal Exchange is so grateful to partner with organizations that share our values, such as the UHA, to shape the future of sustainable food systems in Canada.

To learn more about the Underwater Harvesters Association’s mission and research, visit their website at: http://www.geoduck.org.

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Op-ed written by Meal Exchange student leader: Alex Prong 

 With Halloween fast approaching, Canadian non-profit Meal Exchange ramps up for its biggest event of the year: Trick or Eat. While the event itself raises funds and non-perishable food donations for the London Food Bank, event organizers do not forget the broader issues of poverty and inequality that lay behind food insecurity. On a holiday where overconsumption runs rampant, the food insecurity of 26,000 Londoners is a tough issue to tackle, but an important one. Food is a political issue. We have enough food on the planet to feed every person and then some: we produce enough for one and a half times the world’s population (about 10 billion people). But still people aren’t getting enough food to eat – not just overseas, but right in this city as well. In London, 80,000 people make an income lower than the cost of living, and 3,600 households access one of the city’s 21 food banks every month. It doesn’t matter if the food is being produced if there is no way for people to access it. In addition to inaccessibility, food quality is often staggeringly different depending on class. In both Central and Old East London “food deserts” exist where grocery stores simply don’t stock fresh vegetables and fruits. When grocers do stock the healthier foods, they are often priced so ludicrously high that families cannot afford to make the healthy choice. Often an apple will cost more than a burger, and fast food will become the only option for impoverished families. This rings true in London where 2/3 people are not eating the recommended serving of fruits and vegetables on a daily basis. Meal Exchange’s Trick or Eat is a temporary help for a bigger issue. The event takes place on October 31st every year. Students dress up and canvas the neighborhood in teams collecting cans and other non-perishables. In London, the volunteers go to the general community around Masonville Mall, but similar campaigns are carried out across Canada. Although this is a great way to tangibly help those who are food insecure, the organizers understand that there are underlying causes to food insecurity, and members spend the rest of the year volunteering to hand out meals and talk to those who are impacted by the issue. Living in this city we have a responsibility to restore dignity to those whose basic human needs are not being met. London has poverty levels that are much higher than comparable cities, and the 2nd lowest rate of employment in Ontario. As members of this community it is our duty to work towards finding a solution for the structural reasons behind this kind of inequality. We need to take an intersectional look at poverty: what is different for people who have different ethnicities, sexualities, and genders? With these questions in mind we can start to build a community based on inclusivity and equality, and in a community of that sort, food insecurity could begin to wane away. 

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This past year has been a journey. Since I learned about the Real Food Challenge at Meal Exchange’s 2015 National Student Food Summit, I tend to find myself lying in bed at night thinking about food systems. The Real Food Challenge is important for many reasons. It allows students to audit their school’s purchasing and improve food system transparency. It creates a common ground where students across Canada who are interested in food systems can join together and engage in a meaningful way. All of this is great. But perhaps the greatest part of this project is the personal growth it allows. While this growth is unquantifiable, it’s also unmistakable. The Real Food Challenge forces students to constantly question their values. While there are both joys and frustrations along the way, every experience is invaluable. It’s for this reason that the past year has truly been a tremendous journey.

The journey began when I wanted to make this a research course at McGill. While I knew so little at the time, I could already tell there was something special about the project. Therefore, I worked tirelessly with a professor to make this project a reality. The months devoted to preparing this research class, along with the research class itself, were some of the most tiring ones of my life. It was tiring for many reasons – I was orchestrating relationships between Meal Exchange, my class of nine students, and McGill Food Services throughout this whole process. As previously mentioned, it was also morally frustrating. Constantly questioning your values and beliefs is exhausting and only creates more questions.

Since this experience, I have been working on the Real Food Challenge even more. I obtained a summer position that allowed me to work with Meal Exchange to help develop the project, while also working with McGill Food Services to research more food in the cafeterias. These months have forced me to further question my values, and they have been quite strenuous. But throughout this whole journey, I have not regretted it for an instance. Researching food systems is like nothing else. The relationships formed and personal growth show me the process is worth it. To anyone interested in getting their hands dirty and learning more about this project: I would highly encourage it. No matter where this journey takes you, it will be worth it.

 

Meal Exchange – Real Food Student Standards Committee: Callout for Volunteers

Are you a post-secondary (masters or undergraduate) student who cares about the environment, social justice and food systems? Are you interested in setting standards to change the way campuses purchase food? Join Meal Exchange this Fall in the first-ever Canadian Student Standards Committee.

Background

The Real Food Challenge is a project of Meal Exchange that aims to leverage the power of post-secondary institutions and their students to shift $1 billion of food purchases toward food systems that are ecologically-sound, socially-just, humane, community-based and transparent. This is accomplished through the Real Food Calculator, an online platform that allows students to audit their campus’ purchasing data to determine the % of ‘Real Food’ on campus, and to challenge their campus to reach a higher standard.

However, before Meal Exchange can formally launch the Real Food Challenge, we must first work with students across Canada to finalize our standards. We are seeking a diverse team of knowledgeable, passionate students to help write the final draft of the Canadian Real Food Guide, which will reflect the values of students across the country and transform institutional purchasing practices for years to come.

Goals & Objectives

The Student Standards Committee will contribute to the design of the Real Food Challenge standards in order to make this project:

  • Academically-rigorous
  • Robustly-informed
  • Comprehensive
  • Accessible
  • Relevant and responding to current social and ecological contexts
  • Transparent
  • Consensus-Based

Structure

  • Two committee co-chairs:6 – 10 student representatives
    • Meal Exchange Staff (1)
    • Elected Student Representative (1)

Commitment and Responsibilities

  • Attend weekly meetings, 1-2 hours per week, September – December
  • Synthesize feedback, consult with Advisors, take initiative to strengthen the overall program, 3-5 hours per week, September – December

* We recognize that your availability has the potential to be varied, particularly depending on the time of the semester.

Benefits of Participation

  • Meal Exchange engages post-secondary students and food organizers across Canada: As a member of the Student Standards Committee, you will engage with hundreds of students, academics and professionals across Canada
  • Meal Exchange is the only national organization that works with food systems on the post-secondary level: Be part of the first team in Canada to set cohesive, robust and transparent standards for campus food purchasing
  • The Real Food Challenge will assess and evaluate current institutional food procurement and help advise on opportunities for change: As a member of the Student Standards Committee, you will have the opportunity to inform and shape the Real Food Challenge standards that will transform institutional purchasing for years to come
  • Meal Exchange is connected to the national and international food movement: Receive hands-on training and experience with a professional, highly-esteemed youth-based organization, with public acknowledgement for your contribution and the opportunity for positive references and résumé building

How to Apply

  • Please send a Cover Letter to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. by Saturday October 1st, midnight PST
  • Please include the following information in your Cover Letter:
    • Name, age, school, current year of study and expected year of graduation
    • Why are you applying to be a member of the Student Standards Committee?
    • How would you personally contribute to the diversity of the Student Standards Committee?
    • How would your experience, passion or knowledge help to meet the goals and objectives of the Student Standards Committee?
    • What are skills that you would like to gain from this experience?

* Please note that Meal Exchange will be facilitating a National Indigenous Food Sovereignty Committee later in the Fall. If you or anyone you know would be interested in forming relationships between campuses and Indigenous Communities, please email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. .

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Lina Chaker is the Meal Exchange University of Windsor Chapter Coordinator. Lina has been involved with Meal Exchange as a volunteer for three years. Her passion and interest in being an food activist drove her to get more involved in Meal Exchange.

This summer, Lina has been busy advocating for real food and gathering creative ideas to get more volunteers involved. Lina has seen a massive difference in her University and community. Through connections to Meal Exchange, the Chapter volunteers worked with the chefs to use produce grown in their community gardens on campus and hosted cooking demos that can help educate students on eating healthy and about using real ingredients in every meal.

Currently, Lina and her supporters are working to create a Food Hub on campus. The goal is to educate students about healthy eating and provide them with a space where they can take fresh food for themselves. This way, students will be able to learn about growing healthy natural foods and depend on their own skills to be healthy. In Lina's eyes, Meal Exchange provides support to create just and sustainable food systems while supporting students to have an entrepeneurial spirit.  Going forward, Lina wants to focus on the different initiatives Meal Exchange offers.

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 Susan Kim, masters student at the University of Victoria is Meal Exchange's Lead on Food Sovereignty Co-Coordinator. Susan sat down with Meal Exchange summer staff, Lisa Alton, to discuss her reflections of her work with Meal Exchange this summer. 

Lisa: How did you come to work with Meal Exchange this summer?

Susan:I knew Dana and Sarah from beforehand and they got me interested in Meal Exchange so I started following them on twitter, and then saw the job posting, and here I am!

 

L:What did you learn through your work with Meal Exchange this summer?

S:I learned that food systems are complicated and even just looking at it through the post-secondary lens is already very complicated, but it’s good to see the hands-on approach Meal Exchange takes to make practical differences. Conversations with Kaitlyn (The Real Food Challenge Coordinator) have been enlightening about what’s happening on the ground, in juxtaposition to talking about food in an abstract way in my research. It’s interesting to see the ways scholarship and the real world collide. I also learned about confronting my settler identity and my implicity benefits from the food system colonization. It allowed me to genuinely start the process of concrete decolonization.

L: How so?

S: “It may not seem concrete, but the power of language and using language in new ways is something I’ve been intentional about. There’s a park in Victoria called Beacon Hill Park but it’s real name is “Meegan”, meaning ‘warmed by the sun’. I try to use its Indigenous name to recognize the land.”

 

L: What impact have you seen/hope to see this upcoming year on campus or in your community?

S:With MX, I’m super lucky to be a TA, so I can highly recommend students to get involved with different organizations such as the Real Food Challenge. On a more big picture level, I would love to have more traditional cook-outs, and see a revival and resurgence of traditional food practices that overcome institutional bureaucracy, which in itself is oppressive and colonial.

 

LL What are you looking forward to this year on campus?

Another season of wild strawberries! There’s a batch on campus that only a few of us know about and it’s so nice. I’m also looking forward to seeing students get involved in the movement. While I’m TAing food systems courses, I hope I can be influential in showing students about food sovereignty, food regimes, food justice and food deserts, and introduce them to the campus garden. I can’t wait to tell them how successful it’s been. Lastly, I’m looking forward to seeing another generation of students coming in who will be exposed to these ideas and hopefully act on them, integrating them into their politics and whatever they do in the future.  

Meram Riad, MX Chapter Coordinator at Waterloo shares her passion for food and reflections from her summer with Meal Exchange.

Ever since Meram started off in Science Business, she fell in love with environmental sustainability and resource management. Meram has strong passion for food systems and edible gardening. Meram found Meal Exchange and decided to get involved.

Meram attended Meal Exchange’s National Food Summit, where she facilitated a pallet gardening workshops and attended an aquaponics workshop. What she loves best about Meal Exchange is the how it creates a huge difference in the world. Meal Exchange not only allowed her to get involved in making a change, but taught her soft and technical skills. Meram has learnt a lot about networking, recruiting volunteers and managing time. 

Meram hopes to educate students on food justice and the importance of using farm grown foods in restaurants and schools. Mearm goal is to focus on community kitchens. Students who don't have the time or money to eat a healthy meal can depend on community kitchens and not on canned or junk food. Meram says that the concept of students eating ramen noodles and burgers during their school years is not a joke, but a sad truth. Students have the right and need to learn about healthy eating and have access to that. 

Going forward, Meram wants to increase the growth in the University of Waterloo’s Meal Exchange Chapter. With plans on promoting and marketing Meal Exchange, Meram wants to spread the word of this organization and its goals. 

 Visit www.mealexchange.ca to learn how you can support Meram and make a difference in your own school and community. With your help, food insecurity can be on its way to becoming history.  

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Help us build the Canadian student food movement!

Meal Exchange is looking for a project coordinator for our new bold program, the Campus Food Report Card!

 Job Posting: Campus Food Report Card: Program Coordinator 

Job Classification: 17 month contract ending January 2018, 37.5 hrs/week

Deadline for application: Applications accepted on a rolling basis until September 16th, 2016

Start Date: ASAP

 Salary: Commensurate with experience

Location: Meal Exchange National Office, Toronto, Ontario

 

About Meal Exchange

Meal Exchange empowers young people to take an active role in creating a just and sustainable food system. A national registered charity founded in 1993, we work with over 40 universities and colleges in Canada and our programs have been run in over 100 communities across the country. For more than 20 years, Meal Exchange has been supporting students to develop innovative solutions to increase food security and sustainability on their campuses and in their communities.

 

The Opportunity

At Meal Exchange, we believe that post-secondary campuses are an ideal leverage point for tackling food security and sustainability in Canada, and that student leaders have the power to drive this change. We provide these students with mentorship and resources, and connect them with their peers and stakeholders across the country.

 

The students we support are achieving landmark changes in campus contracts, policies, and culture, and Ontario is currently home to some of the campuses leading the serving and promotion of good food in Canada. However, there is still much more work to build a resilient agriculture and agri-food system in our province that all students can eat from, and it will take all colleges and universities working together to create a new normal for campus dining.

To get there, we need to coordinate student demand across the province. Meal Exchange is developing a Campus Food Report Card to mobilize students around, giving them an opportunity to rank the leadership of their campuses for the quality and accessibility of food served. Our goal: celebrate the campuses that are leaders in making good food available to all. We’re looking for the right person to come in and lead this groundbreaking project!

 

The Position

The Campus Food Report Card Coordinator will:

1) Develop criteria for a province-wide ranking for campuses’ availability and promotion of good food, working with students and stakeholders from across the province

2) Measure student satisfaction with campuses accessibility and promotion of good food, through a cross-campus survey, hosting events and promoting through social media and campus media

3)  Produce feature media stories highlighting Ontario campus leaders for providing good food to all students

4) Promote province-wide ranking, student survey results, and feature stories through print and social media, as well as through webinar and conference presentations

5) Support campuses to understand their Report Card rankings and student satisfaction results, and develop action plans to respond

 

6) Supporting Meal Exchange activities over the course of the year including events, communications and administrative tasks

 

The Candidate

You’re a builder and a mobilizer. You believe in the potential of the student movement, and that you can build a project that will serve as a rallying point for this movement. You have as much ambition as pragmatism, and are as creative as you are strategic.

You’re a strong communicator who is excited to help students tell their story − and tell it again and again again − to develop relationships with the stakeholders, partners and funders that we need to scale our impact.

You focus on experience and impact. You know that how we feel working to create change is essential to our ability to achieve it. You’re genuine, and you look for the culture of the teams you work with to be too. You value play, celebration, openness and vulnerability.

You’re ready to work with everyone who’s got a stake in this movement, including stakeholders from across campus, corporate, and communities.

Knowledge, skills and abilities:

Required Skills:

  • Post-secondary education, or combination of relevant education and experience

  • Experience in team leadership, as well as the development and evaluation of networks

  • Experience or demonstrated interest for developing leadership with youth ages 18-30.

  • Proven ability and enthusiasm to take initiative and engage in active learning.

  • Excellent communication skills, including interpersonal, written, and public speaking situations, as well as meeting facilitation and coordination.

  • Hands-on and collaborative approach to problem solving and proven ability develop creative but practical solutions to difficult challenges.

  • Proven ability to lead and manage both large and small scale projects with limited resources.

  • Applied skill and proficiency with MS Office and web-applications for research, project management and publication purposes. Experience with website development is an asset

  • Excellent attention to detail and ability to multitask, able to work both independently and as part of a team in a fast-paced environment.

 Preferred Skills

  • Experience developing and evaluating programs, including designing and implementing new practices or methodologies.

  • Strong understanding of project/program management techniques and methodologies

  • Knowledge of food insecurity and sustainable food systems in Canada.

  • Experience with campus organizing and student movements.

  • Successful experience fundraising, including grant-writing and reporting.

 

Location: Based out of downtown Toronto, with travel throughout Ontario.

 

Application process

We are considering applications on a rolling basis. Only candidates chosen for an interview will be contacted. Please indicate your expected salary range in your cover letter. 

Meal Exchange is committed to employment equity initiatives, and to having a team that reflects the diversity of the issues and communities we work with. We welcome the wide range of experiences and viewpoints that applicants may bring, including those based on race, ethnicity, sexual orientation, gender identity and expression, ability, age and religion. We welcome both lived and academic experience, and encourage applicants to note this in their application. In our inclusive workplace everyone is assured the right of equitable, fair, and respectful treatment.

 

Applications should be sent as a single attachment (combining resume and cover letter) to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. . If you have any questions about the application process, please direct them to the same address.

 

For more information about Meal Exchange visit www.mealexchange.com.

 

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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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Companion Planting

by Celia White 

  As a life-long gardener and life-long learner, I try to learn something new about gardening every year.  This year: companion planting!  Companion planting is when you plant varieties near to each other that provide some sort of mutual benefit.  I’ve taken most of my inspiration from the amazing resource, Carrots Love Tomatoes, by Louise Riotte.  

 Step 1: pick your favourite plant! I started with tomatoes. 
 Step 2: Research! You can do an online search, ask a mentor or  flip through a book to find great companion plants. I learned that  tomatoes don’t like any brassicas (cabbage varieties, such  as  broccoli or  kale), and they protect asparagus against the asparagus  beetle.  Garlic also  protects  tomatoes from red spider mites.  And, as the book title suggests, carrots love tomatoes.  
 Step 3: experiment in your garden!  I’m a bit of a zealous  person, so I planted garlic, tomatoes, carrots and asparagus in the  same bed, (and I made sure to keep my brassicas in separate  beds).  I cross-referenced each plant to make sure that they all got along comfortably, and I now  have a lovely garden growing outside!  The asparagus may be a little yellow and weary, but the  carrots and tomatoes sure look happy.

 Join the Meal Exchange Team

Meal Exchange is looking for a passionate, motivated and organized student to help coordinate the National Student Food Summit at the University of Waterloo. This exciting position will help to coordinate Canada’s only conference that brings together nearly 100 students from campuses across Canada to reimagine the future of food.

Read the job description here and please send a cover letter and CV to Sarah ( This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. ) by May 14th at 5pm.