Meal Exchange launches Good Food Challenge, calling on Canadian campuses to serve healthy, sustainable and ethical food

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Author: Josie Di Felice

Posted: November 2, 2018

Categories: GoodFoodBites / News from Sustain Ontario / Schools

Meal Exchange, a national charity working to increase food security and sustainability on postsecondary campuses across Canada, announced this week the launch of the Good Food Challenge, advocating for institutions to increase the amount of healthy, sustainable and ethical food available on campus.

The Challenge, led by student researchers, has worked with more than 200 civil society leaders, academics, and campus administrators over the past three years to create a comprehensive set of national standards that represent best practices for measuring whether food on campus is good for consumers, producers, and the planet.

During the development of the Good Food Challenge, the program was piloted on nine campuses, including the University of Ottawa, University of British Columbia, University of Victoria, Langara College, Simon Fraser University, and St. Jerome’s University.

The Challenge employs the Good Food Calculator to track food purchasing, and categorizes those purchases based on four sustainability standards. It also calls on campus administration to sign the Good Food Campus Commitment, promising to make 20% of campus food, as measured by the calculator, meet Good Food standards by the year 2025.

The campaign has already marked its first success, which you can read about in this CBC article — St. Jerome’s University (SJU) signed the Good Food Campus Commitment in April, becoming the first Canadian campus to formally join the program.

“What we’re calling for is not complicated and is not unreasonable,” says Eliana Hotz, one of the student leaders of the Good Food Challenge at the University of Manitoba. “We believe that our food should be good for us. It should be good for the people that produce it. It should be good for communities and for the planet. By signing the Good Food Campus Commitment, SJU has shown that they believe this. Other schools can and should follow their example and show that they believe this too.”

Colleges and universities are often among the largest bulk-food purchasers in their communities, giving them significant purchasing power and thus a great impact on local economies and food systems.

Of course, campus food also has a significant impact on students — Meal Exchange has shared that nearly two in five post-secondary students surveyed on Canadian campuses experienced moderate or severe food insecurity (Silverthorne D., Hungry for Knowledge, 2016).

”Good Food is becoming a priority for students and campus administrators, so it’s important to define exactly what that means,” says Anita Abraham, Meal Exchange’s Executive Director. “These standards are groundbreaking because, for the first time, they create a single, decisive, and comprehensive standard for Good Food on Canadian campuses.”

The Good Food Challenge was inspired by the U.S based Real Food Challenge. The two campaigns are partnering to shift $1 billion worth of campus food purchases across Canada and the United States.

Meal Exchange’s Good Food Challenge has been supported by the Ontario Trillium Foundation, Greenbelt Foundation, Winnipeg Foundation, Vancity Foundation, Vancouver Foundation, Real Estate Foundation of British Columbia, and the J.W. McConnell Family Foundation.

All information above was gathered from a Meal Exchange press release. Be sure to learn more on the Meal Exchange website here.