CapU student heads to food summit

By Anne Watson / North Shore News
August 16, 2013 12:00 AM

CAMPUS food and sustainable practices is on the table for discussion at this year's National Student Food Summit in Toronto for one Capilano University student.

The summit, which takes place from Aug. 16 to 18 at the University of Toronto, is meant to encourage students and youth from across Canada to take part in campus-related food issues. The event includes speakers with a variety of backgrounds as well as sessions on everything from strengthening the Canadian food movement to going green with food.

Tiaré Jung, fourth year liberal studies student and Campus Food Systems Project co-ordinator at Capilano University, will be participating as one of the speakers this year for the first time.

"I'm excited for it. I think the summit is going to be a lot more focused this year because a lot of the delegates attending have now had a year of organizing food projects in their own campus to come back and share with people," said Jung. "I think it will be good."

Meal Exchange, a charitable organization that works with post-secondary students to achieve sustainable food systems, is hosting the summit, and together with the Sierra Youth Coalition, also runs the Campus Food Systems Project. The project has nine pilot campuses across Canada, including Capilano University.

Peter Kapler, executive director of Meal Exchange, said the summit has grown exponentially over the years.

"The food summit is in its 10th year right now and in fact is our biggest ever," he said. "We have 75 delegates from campuses all across Canada."

The theme for this year's summit is Cultivating Change on Campus, something Jung has been doing for the past couple of years. She started by going to the UBC farm and community gardens, and literally getting her hands dirty.

"That started to get me thinking about how there are so many things in the grocery store I have no idea where they came from," she said. "I have no idea how it is that I have strawberries in January, or grapefruits, oranges. I became very conscious of not only where my food is coming from, but what the impact of that food was."

Jung said she had always been involved in her student union and that propelled her thinking forward.

"It seemed like a pretty good fit to start to look into our campus food system and where our food was coming from on campus," she said. "If the university is a place for education and for students to start to become who they want to be, shouldn't that be a holistic experience that also includes their everyday decisions that may seem simple but are actually really important?" Kapler said it's this type of thinking that makes the summit so important for students to exchange ideas about food sustainability.

"The food summit is an opportunity for the youth leaders from all across the country to come together and share a unified vision for what food on campus should be and what the campus food systems should look like," said Kapler. "Youth and students who are university aged are in a critical time in their lives, they're basically in a very formative time."

Meal Exchange empowers youth to take an active role in improving their local food systems, said Kapler, especially when there is a perception that the food system is not functioning well.

"This is an opportunity for all of those leaders to get together in one place, get to know each other, get inspired, listen to experts in their field and really learn from each other, take as much away as possible," said Kapler.

University teaches critical thinking, said Jung, and that makes it the perfect place to educate and apply sustainable practices, such as supporting the preservation of farmland in the Lower Mainland.

"Capilano is where I spend a lot of my time and where my friends are and it's where I often have to eat many meals of the day," she said. "I want to be able to go into the dining hall and feel confident that there are options there for me."

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