Improving access to Good Food on campus

Humber community stakeholders and research findings confirm that sustainability and healthy campus food options are a high priority for the College.

In January 2019, a survey of more than 700 participants, found two in three students would choose local, organic, Fairtrade, healthy options when purchasing food on campus.

“Since 2013, we’ve taken several actions to learn more about our food system, and we know there is more to be done,” says Lindsay Walker, associate director, Capital Development and Facilities Management. “The latest step on that journey was to take the Good Food Challenge.”

The Good Food Challenge is inspired by and developed in partnership with the Real Food Challenge, in the United States. It is an initiative supported by Meal Exchange, which supports colleges and universities across Canada to serve food supporting fair and sustainable economies. By meeting the requirements and commitment to Good Food, Humber is exploring new ways of providing “Good Food” on campus by 2025.

Improving access to Good Food on campus

Good Food is measured by Meal Exchange as food that nourishes producers, consumers, communities, animals and the earth. From farming to food consumption, the food process aims to “respect human dignity and health, animal welfare, social justice, and environmental sustainability.”

Researching Humber’s Good Food initiatives across the campus, Stephanie Ross and Robin Sagi, who are recent Humber alumni, worked with the Office of Sustainability, Humber Food Services and Chartwells Higher Education throughout the summer to complete the Good Food Calculator – an auditing tool that is used to track food purchases that qualify as Good Food. The Good Food Calculator offers a rigorous national standard for Good Food, capturing best practices in campus food procurement and upheld consistently between campuses across Canada.

Robin and Stephanie used the Good Food Calculator audit to look more closely into Humber’s North Campus Residence food purchases for two months (September 2018 and February 2019). The audit allowed Humber to assess their current food purchasing options and with that baseline find solutions to reach a higher standard of Good Food options.

For Sagi, participating in the Good Food Challenge provided opportunities to learn new skills and gain hands-on experiences while promoting sustainability in post-secondary institutions across Ontario. While completing a Bachelor of International Development, Sagi also helped initiate the Fair Trade Campus program at Lakeshore Campus in 2017.

Sagi says large institutions like Humber have the power to make positive contributions by increasing the support to local communities such as farmers and small businesses. Not only does this support and enhance food options on campus, but it also supports the community, current and future graduates working in these select local industries.

“We have postsecondary institutions producing entrepreneurs, employees for different professions and markets who are investing in the economy, but we need to do the same [invest] for our local communities and help Canada thrive,” says Sagi.

Humber has been researching food sourcing on campus since 2014 and completing the Good Food Challenge audit helped the college take the next step toward by setting new standards for healthy produce on campus.

Improving access to Good Food on campus

“We will be conducting this audit every two years going forward to track our progress. We are starting to set some goals with Food Services and Chartwells that will hopefully improve the results when we do it again in 2021,” says Walker.

Sagi adds, working with Humber on the Good Food Challenge helped explore the benefits and challenges in supply chains and strengthen real-world skills by exploring different aspects of sustainable development.

“Although we are a developed country, we have more developing to do,” says Sagi. “By using the skills learned in my program and as an intern, you can see how human rights, environmental issues and the impact of our communities can come full circle. Being in an institution with multiple education avenues shows you how they are connected and different directions you can pursue in the future,” says Sagi.

Join the Office of Sustainability on November 12 at North Campus (E concourse from 1:30 p.m. to 3 p.m.) and November 13 at Lakeshore Campus (L1017 from 1 p.m. to 2 p.m.) for the launch of the new five-year Sustainability Plan which involves several commitments to improve food sustainability on campus, among many other campus sustainability actions.