StFX students talk food strategies at summit

By Richard MacKenzie
September 10, 2013

Five StFX students were amongst those taking part in last month’s (Aug. 16 to 18) National Student Food Summit, organized by Meal Exchange, in Toronto.

The theme of the summit was Cultivating Change on Campus and it highlighted innovative student work being done on campuses.

Amongst the X students taking part was Rebecca McEvoy who is part of the university’s campus food strategy group. She was joined by two other members of the group as well as a delegate from the student food resource centre and student union.

“So it was a neat mix because we are all working on different aspects of the campus food system here,” McEvoy said.

“It was a good chance for us to network and talk about different aspects of our food system and how we can collaborate more this year.”

McEvoy talked about her group’s involvement in a campus food systems project which is something happening on campuses all across Canada.

“The resources we have access to have helped us, substantially, to be more organized and to have an idea of what is happening on campuses across Canada, with food service providers and distributors,” she said of some of the benefits of being part of the project and larger group.

She also talked about some of the goals of the project and those coming out of the summit.

“More local food procurement … so higher targets and how can we apply some pressure to food service providers and food distributors, like wholesalers, to buy more of their food from local suppliers which helps local economies,” McEvoy said, adding sustainable food production as another goal.

She said the same sort of goals are happening at other institutions, like hospitals and high schools, and it’s important to have campuses involved because they are, naturally, places of innovation.

“There are all kinds of students, young minds being formed,” she said.

“So if we can work to raise awareness about the benefits of local food production and sourcing locally, knowing where your food comes from, then we’re helping to form a new generation of conscience consumers. They can help push this agenda later on when they’re out in the workforce and feeding their own families,” she said.

Using the summit to judge where StFX sits when it comes to progressive food ideas, McEvoy said they’re definitely leaders in some areas but there is always room to grow.

“In terms of applied student research, StFX is definitely one of the leading campuses as far as we saw,” she said. “We have a great service learning program here at StFX and in Antigonish, so we’ve been able to connect, through them, and do amazing student research last year. We’re building on that this year and we’re connecting with, I think, four or five classes and students in those classes are going to learn about our project and be able to make community connections.”

McEvoy said the goal will be to send StFX delegates to the annual summit next summer.“We’re excited to see what happens this year and we think, going back next year, we’ll have a lot more stories to tell and examples to share,” she said.