student food movement


Foodie Drinks - Students' edition

You only have to be young at heart to come to our next Foodie Drinks. Food Forward is excited to partner with the Toronto Youth Food Policy Council to present what could be our biggest Foodie Drinks yet, complete with a special focus on campus food initiatives and research happening across the City, as well as music, good eats and local drinks.

Foodie Drinks is our monthly chance to mingle, network and build new relationships in Toronto's food movement. No matter where you work, volunteer, or are just interested in good praxis, this is a great place to make and see friends. Invite someone along to make it grow. 

This Foodie Drinks, to follow directly after the TYFPC public meeting, is also our chance to celebrate the launch of Gathering, the Council's new youth journal on food issues! Join us to meet some of the contributors and find out how to access the journal online. As usual, we'll also be featuring speakers, and are happy to ahve Devin Holterman to discuss York's Green Campus Co-op, and Zoe McKnight from Ryerson's  School of Journalism to discuss her Master's research in Canadian food policy.

The Free Times is a 30 year old Toronto stronghold carrying llots of local, organic and veggie food & local drink. Menu focus on Middle-Eastern and Jewish fare available for purchase.
We'll be featuring the award winning Nut Brown beer from the Black Oak Brewing Company and thanks to their support, $1 each from your purchase of this brew will be donated both to TYFPC and Food Forward.

Let people know you're coming on Twitter with #FoodieDrinks and attend on Facebook. Get your pic snapped in our photobooth by photographer Justin Ing.

Free entrance. But grab a Food Forward membership for ten bucks to get involved and advocate for a better food system. Or join now online.

Click here to learn about more food initiatives on Toronto campuses.

We'd like to thank:

- Equity Studies, New College (U of T) for their support of this event. Check out their food-focused program:

- The Centre of Food Security, Ryerson University. They have a Certificate in Food Security:

Location: Free Times Cafe, 320 College St. (near Spadina)

Time: 8:30PM/after the TYFPC meeting, Monday, March 5


Food movement grows on campus

by Linda Swanston and Caitlin Langois Greenham

Sodexo, a major university and college food provider, started a campaign recently to eliminate display plates in cafeterias. Students may no longer have pre-plated roast beef, veggies and gravy to look at before choosing their meal, but over 250,000 pounds of food waste are saved last year alone in Canada.  That’s just from display plates.

Founded in 2011 the Sustainable Food Services Task Force of the Green Education Council(GEC) wants every aspect of post-secondary food service to be as environmentally and socially sustainable as possible.  The GEC is a group of universities, colleges, corporations, government, and not-for-profits committed to re-orienting our post-secondary education system to address issues of sustainability. Food Forward was fortunate to participate in the recent Sustainable Food Services Task Force meeting organized by the GEC in Toronto at the OCAD tabletop on June 15th

The GEC made a real effort to invite a diversity of guests to the table including; small-business food providers focused on the local and sustainable; NGOs in the food sector; corporate food service providers; university food service administrators; student food security organizers; and representatives from the Ontario Public Sector Green Office.  The event was a unique opportunity for cross-pollination between groups that rarely get a chance to sit at the same table to discuss opportunities, challenges, and dreams in Ontario’s post-secondary food sector. The conversations were both productive and at times provocative.

Several student food security initiatives and groups were represented at the meeting.  U of T’s Dig In! Campus Agriculture brought ideas from a myriad of student food projects including the Sky Garden, an interconnected and self-watering container garden atop a Faculty of Engineering building, the B.E.E.S. educational group that’s developing non-invasive and organic apiaries around campus, and multiple student community gardens. Ryerson University’s Rye’s Home Grown Community Garden was also at the table.  It’s a new student and community project that grows fresh produce on campus for project members and for the Ryerson Community Food Bank.  Students from York University also attended to gather knowledge for a new student co-op café that’s starting small in September and hoping to grow, as well as to collaborate with and build support for York’s President’s Sustainability Council Student Subcommittee’s (PSCSS) ongoing push for stronger local/sustainable food policy on campus.  Members of the Fanshawe College Student Union and OCADU also participated to inform their work with food services.

From a student perspective, the meeting was a great opportunity to hear the thoughts of other stakeholders in campus food services and food security.  The meeting reinvigorated conversation between York administrators and the PSCSS about ongoing process of developing a Campus Food Charter and brought the national student food leader, Meal Exchange, into the conversation. For Jason Qu of U of T, the meeting provided a chance to connect with participants from corporate food service - Sodexo, Kraft, and Aramark.  Jason was hopeful after the meeting:

The GEC has brought big-name institutional food service providers around the table, and we're given this opportunity to figure out where they stand - what are their priorities? What are the barriers they face in becoming more sustainable? What sort of language do they frame these issues in? Initiatives like the GEC's [Food Services] Task Force represent, I hope, a chance to figure out the intersecting interests we have, so that we can make real, progressive changes to how food is provided on campus.”

The GEC Food Services Task Force aims to share models of practice, ideas, support, and challenges between its members in in order to catalyze and connect sustainable food systems in Ontario’s post-secondary schools.  A strong partnership between founding GEC members at Queen’s University and Sodexo provides one model for cross-sectoral collaboration.   

Queen’s successfully piloted Sodexo’s new 14-hour composting technology and plans to expand the program to divert 95% of the school’s food waste.  They are also collaborating on My Farm, a farm owned by Sodexo where Queen’s is developing a program to raise money for a local food bank by growing veggies and make fresh soups and stews to sell at the Queen’s Farmer’s Market . 

In the afternoon, we formed break-out groups to brainstorm sustainability elements that could be included in Universities’ Requests for Proposals (RFPs).  A food service RFP is an open call of sorts to potential food service providers that lists a university’s food requirements and can include sustainability criteria.  Toronto is already a leader in this field as U of T was the first university on the continent to formally commit to purchasing local sustainable food for cafeterias and residences in 2006 when it launched a partnership with Local Food Plus.

After the breakout sessions, we compiled our ideas about RFPs in a plenary and five themes emerged: student leadership and collaboration with food services; improving local and sustainable food procurement; reducing and tracking waste;  developing new frameworks for economic opportunities; and compiling data to create targets for change.  It will be exciting to see how post-secondary institutions continue to integrate concerns about sustainability into the quest for flavour and freshness, and if they do so in the more formalized manner of RFP criteria.

2011 is shaping up to be a critical year for advancing food security agendas on campuses across Ontario.  As the Food Services Task Force develops model RFPs, Food Forward develops our Student Food Network with knowledge-sharing and skill-building events for students involved in food studies and initiatives,  and the GEC expands its membership and reaches out to campus community members who’ve not participated so far, a lot is on the menu.  Students have also initiated positive change in campus food systems by collaborating across campuses in the National Student Food Summit this month. The summit will brought together students from universities and colleges across Canada to develop a Campus Food Charter that can be adopted as a framework for campus food security initiatives.  Food Forward's Darcy Higgins was pleased to participate on a panel with his colleagues at this conference.

Food Forward is excited to continue the conversation and support collaborative action to create environmentally and socially sustainable campus food services and programs.

To get involved with the Green Education Council, please ask us or get in touch directly with Pieter Basedow,


Darcy talks food on CKLN

It's Food Security Week at Ryerson, and Darcy sat down with Joel Dick on CKLN 88.1 FM’s Word of Mouth to talk about what Food Forward's been up to and why the food issues matter to the City of Toronto.

Take a listen below and learn more about what the Ryerson Students' Union and CESAR have planned for Food Security Week by clicking here.