Blog posts tagged in Campus Food Systems Project

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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Meal Exchange staff, Sarah, had the good fortune of connecting with McGill Graduate Ansel Renner to discuss his university experience and plans for the future.


What was your first connection to Meal Exchange?
Ansel: I had heard about The National Student Food Summit from past McGill coordinators and attended in 2014. The Summit exceeded my expectations. I was struck by the diversity within the Meal Exchange network, both the students and speakers (geographically and perspectives).

What are some of your accomplishments on your campus?
Ansel: I have been involved in many aspects of food work throughout my university career. At the University of New Hampshire, my classmates and I convened local fisherfolk and chefs to build a successful market for dogfish - a local, abundant and affordable fish. At McGill, I have been involved in the development of a Campus Food Charter and in informing the discussion on food waste production and reduction across campus.

How did connecting with Meal Exchange shape your university experience?
Ansel: Throughout my university career, I have seen so many students sacrifice happiness for a potential “successful” job in the future. Meal Exchange has exposed me to so many students from across the country who are genuinely happy with their studies, lifestyles and are building amazing projects to ensure good food for all. Moreover, Meal Exchange has encouraged me to attend conferences, including ones by the Canadian Fair Trade Network, and Engineers Without Borders, which has ‘opened doors’ for me allowing for an incredibly enriching experience.

How will you continue this work in the future?

Ansel: I have always dreamed of being a chef, but seem to have forgotten this recently. This summer in Montreal, I will be training at a butcher heavily invested in locally and humanely sourced meats. I will also be learning from local bakers and chefs, while conducting research related to global food security. This will give me an opportunity to further apply what I have learned over my past few years. In the fall I will be continuing studies at the Autonomous University of Barcelona to study the Political (Ecological) Economy of Food Systems.

How would you like to continue to contribute to the food movement? 

Ansel: I am looking forward to sharing Meal Exchange’s work during my time in Europe. I have a lot to share and learn from others. I will also continue to be active in supporting students at McGill. We connect on Facebook, so I can give my support and insight no matter where I am!

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Here are some of the fall 2013 highlights from our Campus Food Strategy groups

Capilano University

Tiare has played a very active role in RFP preparation and submitted 5 key values to represent student and campus community interest in the new food services contract. Companies that submit bids to Capilano will respond with detailed plans on how their services on campus will include: Nourishment and sustenance, Community engagement & evidence based decision making, effective resource management, connection to the regional food resources and ecosystem, education on healthy, fresh, sustainable food options. What a magical video montage for photos and Tiare sharing out garden tricks!

Carleton University

This fall, Carleton joined the Ontario Campus Food Systems Project. Wesley was able to gather with students from Ryerson, Trent and Waterloo at the OCFSP retreat and strategize about the year to come. Wesley has stayed busy coordinating Applied Student Research and serving up local and sustainable food through the Garden Spot and a Pickling and Picketing workshop!

Dalhousie University

Sammie and Jen connected National Kale Day to Aramark dining halls which served up delicious kale-inspired dishes. Aramark is looking forward to supporting more special food day events and features, for other 'alternative foods' like 'trash fish'. We're also looking forward to celebrating Dal's soon-to-be Fair Trade Campus certification, a process that's been sped up and helped along by Sam's connections with Chartwells.

Memorial University

Emma and Ethan coordinated with the Community Harvest Garden, Graduates Student Union, Aramark and the Sustainability Office celebrate the harvest and a new connection with a fishery focused on sustainable sourcing. The process brought together many individuals from across the community to focus on food and resulted in an event with 150 participants to share in good food and conversation!

St. Francis Xavier University

From the humble beginnings of a multi-stakeholder meeting, Rebecca, Lisa, and Sarah, along with their faculty advisor Jon, partnered with Sodexo to focus on local food procurement for Annapolis Valley Apples! Sodexo was excited about the opportunity to create student engagement and happily placed the order for local apples. A Valley apple giveaway took place during exam time - coordinators handed out 500 local apples(!) as nutritious snacks for studying students.

University of Northern British Columbia

This fall was all about sowing seeds for a food secure and just future at UNBC. Cam, Nitha and Mike worked diligently to finalize the RFP, and are now creating a Food Strategy, Food Vision and UNBC-specific Food Charter!

University of New Brunswick-St Thomas University

The UNB-STU CFSG partnered with the Fredericton Community Kitchen to put on a fantastic event called Fred-Talks that brought together students, staff, faculty and community members to discuss challenges and solutions to creating sustainable food systems. This event providing students at UNB-STU to connect with some of the amazing initiatives happening just down the hill from the University and spark a conversation of what is to come on campus!

University of Manitoba

With ongoing meetings and support from Julie and Allison, the Office of Sustainability has been turned onto the idea of developing a campus food strategy - the office will be dedicating 2 research analyst positions to work on food and specifically on creating a food strategy. The office and CFSG stakeholders will be working on engaging the campus in the creation of a food strategy and vision over the Winter semester.

Vancouver Island University

The team at VIU has kept very busy this fall! Megan and Pam brought their enlarged National Student Food Charter and their appetite for learning to conferences and event on campus and around the Cowichan Valley. The team welcomed Genevieve as a new co-coordinator and Celia has moved from CFM coordinator to a staff position as Healthy Communities Coordinator. The VIU Campus Food Movement collaborated with students from a Tourism course to execute and evaluate an event in the Community Peace Garden - take a look at the video!

Top 10 Highlights from the Campus Food Movement in 2013

  1. The Recognition of Food: A 2011 study done by Technomic found that 44% of students stated that "the dining hall scene factored into their decision of where to attend college." Maclean's showed that food is an essential factor to the University Experience in their 2014 University Rankings. The Campus Food Systems Project was highlighted and quoted in this issue.
  2. National Student Food SummitThe National Student Food Summit took place in August with 100 students representing 30 Universities and Colleges across the country. The 15 Campus Food Strategy Group Coordinators in attendance demonstrated their expertise in campus food system organizing and represented the great work happening on each of their campuses. Students were also able to make connections across campuses and strengthen the role of the national network.
  3. Campus Tours: In the Winter and Spring of 2013, National Coordinators Sarah and Caitlin had the opportunity to visit the 9 original CFSP Campuses across the country. These visits provided us the opportunity to see the fantastic work of the CFSP network on the ground, support our coordinators in person and connect with stakeholders like yourselves. Find out more through our Exit Reports (East Coast, West Coast).
  4. Stakeholder RainbowGrowth of the CFSP through the support of the Greenbelt Fund's Broader Public Sector Stream. The creation of the Ontario Campus Food Systems Project (O-CFSP) focuses on applied student research, local food celebrations and student engagement. Starting in January, the O-CFSP will be convening a cross-sectoral advisory committee to connect student, administration, faculty, staff, food service providers and distributor leaders from across Ontario to put their heads together on challenges and opportunities for campus food systems.
  5. Policy Change: Students in the CFSP network have made significant impacts on policy including researching and writing aspects of the campuses Request for Proposal for food services, evaluating food service provision proposals, and are working on broader campus food strategies and visions.
  6. National Student Food CharterThe National Student Food Charter is a way for students to work together to identify the food issues that are important to them as members of their communities. This fall, many of our campuses made the NSFC their own. From sharing the charter at festivals around Vancouver Island, to having the Charter integrated into their requests for proposals, to creating a campus-specific Charter, student values towards food are starting an inclusive and important conversation that is mobilizing the national student food movement.
  7. Applied Student Research: Over the course of the Fall 2013 semester, over 50 students participated in food systems research connected to the CFSP. Students at Capilano helped dream up, organize and execute campus-community events while students at Ryerson University worked hard to uncover and help tell the story of the shift, lessons learned, and implications in the campus' food services contract. To discover more of the research and projects unfolding at Universities nation-wide visit the Sustainable Campus Database.
  8. Celebration: This fall, students were able to celebrate the harvest and local food knowledge on campus and in the community. Events this fall included over 150 students celebrating local sustainable fish procurement at Memorial University, Campus Garden tour at VIU, Local Food Days at the University of Manitoba, and a Community Conversation at UNB-STU.
  9. CelebrationSystems-Thinking: This fall, our CFSP coordinators and their supporters embarked on journeys to provide greater understanding about our food system. This included field trips to distribution hubs, farms and even tours of on campus cooking facilities. These experience bring the food system to life and empower students to realize how food systems can become more equitable, sustainable, connected and healthy.
  10. Leveraging funding: Campuses are recognizing the importance of student coordination for food on campus and the role of the national network. Administration, Student Unions and Sustainability Offices alike are helping to support the work of the CFSP and ensuring they stay leaders in food work on campus.