Category Archives: Centre for Sustainable Food Systems

Hungry for Change

The final report of the year-long Fabian Commission on Food and Poverty sets out how a fairer food system can be built that works better for people on low incomes.

Drawing on public hearings, expert testimony and the insights of people with experience of managing poverty, the Commission has uncovered a crisis of food access for many households in the UK. There are multiple cases of parents – usually mothers  – going hungry to feed their children or having to prioritise calories over nutrients to afford their weekly food shop. Many people are feeling a deep sense of anxiety from the struggle to manage serious squeezes in household budgets that arises from the cost of living rising faster than income.

… from the preface by Geoff Tansey, Chair of the Fabian Commission on Food and Poverty

We named this independent inquiry the Fabian Commission on Food and Poverty in order to broaden the debate on the connection between these two issues in the UK. People on low incomes in the UK face a new struggle to acquire sufficient quantities and adequate qualities of food. Many people are caught between the pincers of rising food prices, household bills and housing costs on one side and stagnant incomes on the other. Something has to give for these families and the only thing to squeeze is spending on food.

Recent discussion of food and poverty has been too narrow, focusing on the growth of charitable food provision, such as food banks, and the role it plays in feeding hungry people. But charitable food provision is the tip of the iceberg – the links between food and poverty extend far beyond food banks. Critically, we need to recognise that food banks and charitable food providers are not solutions to household food insecurity, they are symptoms of society’s failure to ensure everybody is sustainably well-fed.

Read more

Download the full report [pdf]

Strong #EatThinkVote campaign points to need for Canadian Food Policy Council

… from The Hill Times online, Wed Nov. 4, 2015
By Peter Andrée

Food issues are cross-cutting and complex. Who better to deliberate on them than a council that brings together the best minds from the relevant levels of government, industry, and civil society? A food policy council would consist of stakeholders and representatives from all parts of the food system.
In the recent election campaign, we saw a new player exerting its political muscle on the Canadian food and agricultural scene. Food Secure Canada’s #EatThinkVote campaign brought to the fore the issues of poverty-related food insecurity, the obstacles facing new farmers, and the challenges in accessing safe and affordable food faced by northern indigenous communities. The campaign represents a growing alignment of actors who are connecting around issues across the policy silos of health, agriculture, trade, environment, and more.
Read more

The Future of Food is Local

By Julie Bourassa, CFICE Volunteer

Food sustainability and climate change are increasingly urgent and intertwined issues. From the way we produce and package our food, to how much we consume, our relationship with food is not sustainable. Melissa Johnston, a Master’s student in Trent University’s Sustainability Studies program and a Research Assistant with CFICE’s Community Environmental Sustainability hub, explores a powerful solution to these issues that can be found in our very own local farmer’s markets. Read more

Subscribe to read the latest monthly CFICE newsletter here

Community First: Impacts of Community Engagement (CFICE), is an action research project aimed at strengthening Canadian communities by asking the question: How can community-campus partnerships be designed and implemented to maximize the value created for non-profit, community-based organizations? CFICE carries out project and research work in five areas: Poverty Reduction, Community Environmental Sustainability, Community Food Security, Knowledge Mobilization, and Violence Against Women. When it comes to community-campus relationships, we believe that together everyone achieves more.

November 2015: 30 Days of Food Systems Planning and Policy

… from Kimberley Hodgson​Chair, APA Food Systems Planning Interest Group ​

In November 2015, the American Planning Association (APA) will highlight and promote food systems planning and policy. In an effort to support this messaging campaign, the APA Food Systems Planning Interest Group (APA-FIG) will feature interviews with practicing planners, special blog posts, and more.

Please join the conversation! We welcome comments, images, and tweets, and encourage you to use #foodsystems when you post to various social media outlets in November. Check the APA-FIG website regularly, and follow us on LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter (@APA_FIG, @APA_Planning), and Instagram (@foodsystemsplanning).

  • Faces of Food Systems Planning – On Monday, Wednesdays, and Fridays, APA-FIG will post a new interview with food systems planning practitioners in the public, private, and non-governmental sectors.

  • Fridays – Each Friday, APA-FIG will pose a new question on Twitter or Facebook to planners and allied professionals across North America.

  • Special Blog Posts – The APA-FIG Research, Policy, and Communication & Outreach Working Groups will explore various food systems planning and policy topics.

  • Tuesdays at APA – On November 10th, Debra Tropp, a deputy director within USDA’s Agricultural Marketing Service will discuss a recent effort to capture and quantify economic impacts of local food system investments.

  • Thanksgiving Week – During the week of Thanksgiving, APA-FIG will feature a special social media strategy to engage planners and allied professionals in a meaningful conversation about our food systems and Thanksgiving.

Creativity + Collaboration = Action

… from Katie Nolan, Agriculture and Rural Economic Development Advisor, Ontario Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs


Only FIVE days left to Pre-Register!

The Cities of Belleville and Quinte West, in partnership with the Ontario Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs, are proud to host the 5th Annual Eastern Ontario Local Food Conference on November 4 and 5‎.

At this year’s conference:

  • Book one-on-one time with a mentor.  We have experts in
    • Building a food processing business
    • Production of high-value crops such as hops and berries
    • Small business loans
    • Food safety, traceability, and regulations
    • Social media
    • And much more… !
  • Network with potential suppliers and buyers
  • Meet buyers looking for Eastern Ontario product
  • Learn about how Eastern Ontario is moving the bar on local food!

For full conference details and to register:

In addition to these great sessions and a full day of networking, delegates will be treated to a Local Food Lunch featuring locally sourced dishes. A trade show will also be a feature of the conference.

Follow us on Twitter @EOLocalFood and Facebook

See you there!

The Global Kitchen Project

…from WLU, Oct. 27, 2015
WATERLOO – Wilfrid Laurier University has launched the Global Kitchen project – a community kitchen for Laurier’s international student body that promotes the exploration of culture through food. The Global Kitchen is managed by Laurier International and located in the Harris Hope House on Laurier’s Waterloo campus.

The Global Kitchen is intended to reflect the attitude that food is an intrinsic part of one’s cultural identity and can serve as a means of understanding, experiencing, and sharing cultures. What we consume, how we acquire it, who prepares it, who is at the table, and who eats first, all reflect complex relationships and interactions among individuals and the society in which we live.

“The Global Kitchen project is a great opportunity for the community to network with Laurier students, to gain insight into the variety of cultural backgrounds at the university, and to understand and experience different cultures first hand through food,” said Peter Donahue, associate director, international student support. “The Global Kitchen Project creates an inclusive community that embraces and encourages diversity.”

The international student body will enjoy a plethora of programs at the Global Kitchen throughout the academic year, learning nutrition and culinary skills to improve their health and well being and diversify their diets. Read more

Community Power, Empowerment, and Models of Capacity Building

October 27, 2015

5:006:30 p.m. 

Room K214 – 232 King St. North, Waterloo ON

Dr. Brian Christens is associate professor of Civil Society and Community Studies at the University of Wisconsin–Madison’s School of Human Ecology. He is faculty director of the UW Center for Community & Nonprofit Studies, and holds affiliate appointments in departments focused on population health, sociology, and environmental studies. His research is on community power and empowerment – particularly the ways that local groups can build power to make beneficial changes to systems that affect their lives.

In this talk, Dr. Christens will discuss models for capacity building such as coalition action, collective impact, and grassroots organizing – and consider them from the perspective of community power and empowerment. He will describe how recent research is informing efforts to build local power for community change.

All are welcome to attend! Light refreshments will be served. Learn more at

Laurier’s Alison Blay-Palmer appointed CIGI Chair in Sustainable Food Systems

from Wilfrid Laurier University, Oct. 19, 2015

Wilfrid Laurier University’s Centre for Sustainable Food Systems (CSFS) Director Alison Blay-Palmer has been appointed the Centre for International Governance Innovation Chair in Sustainable Food Systems, located at the Balsillie School of International Affairs.

Blay-Palmer’s background is in the area of resilient food systems and sustainable communities. Her work brings together community, researchers and many collaborators to shed light on the issues of food systems and community prosperity – using food as a lens to address complex community issues.

Blay-Palmer’s current research received over $2.4 million from the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council Partnership Grant Program to support the Food: Locally Embedded, Globally Engaged (FLEdGE) Partnership. This partnership links two of the most pressing issues of our time – sustainability and food – and will support co-creating knowledge about sustainable regional food systems and explore the current and potential role of community food initiatives across Canada and globally.

“Local and sustainable community food initiatives reflect growing public awareness that food can act as a vehicle for positive change,” said Blay-Palmer. “This support will allow us to engage in hands-on research projects with members of our national and international advisory committees who have up until now only informed our research.”

Through the study of food, citizens, practitioners, policy-makers and academics can grasp the importance of and interconnections between ecological stewardship, social justice, cultural vitality, prosperous economies and citizen engagement.

Blay-Palmer, who is also leader of the Nourishing Ontario research and community outreach project (, has worked for over five years to bring together a group of over seventy Canadian and internal participants into the project. Collaborators include researchers and community members from Ecological Farmers Association of Ontario (Guelph, Ontario), Ecology North (Yellowknife, NWT), Garden Party (St. Agatha, Ontario), Resource Centres on Urban Agriculture and Food Security (The Netherlands), Cardiff University (United Kingdom), Institut national de la recherche argronomique (France) and the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization. A full list of partners can be found on the CSFS website.

Read more

Milan Urban Food Policy Pact

from the RUAF Foundation—a Centre for Sustainable Food Systems collaborator…

On 15 October, more than 100 cities signed the Milan Urban Food Policy Pact. The Pact consists of a series of tangible commitments for sustainable urban food policies. Signatory Mayors from cities in the Global North and South pledge to develop actions and strategies to improve their urban food system. Read more

The text of the Pact and the framework for action are available in ENG, IT, FR, SP, Dutch, Russian, Arabic on:

Also an e-book was developed collecting 49 good practices from signatory cities that already demonstrate actions, policies and results in various fields such as food waste reduction and reuse, urban and peri-urban agriculture, improved governance and sustainable diets. The e-book—Milan Urban Food Policy Pact. Selected Good Practices from Cities—can be downloaded at: or

All documents were developed in a participatory process by the cities, with support of the city of Milan and a Technical Team, including staff of the RUAF Foundation.

RUAF, along with FAO Food for Cities and other City Region Food System collaborators, will continue working with the municipality of Milan on the post Pact process to assist cities in translating the Pact into action. We will keep you posted on future developments. For further information: and

Milan Urban Food Policy Pact

full text (pdf)

Cuban Agroecotours

Are you interested in traveling to Cuba this winter? And learning about agroecology at the same time? Check out information about a Cuban Agroecology Tour that will be running from December 11-21, 2015. It will be a unique opportunity to visit farms, talk to Cuban farmers, researchers, and community leaders and experience Cuba’s history, politics, landscape and culture.

You can also learn more at the Cuban Agroecotours facebook page