Hungry for Change – My (Unforgettable) Experience at the Meal Exchange National Food Summit

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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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Guest Monday, 23 October 2017