Tag Archives: food access

Farm to Fork

Guest blog:The Farm To Fork logo

To most of us, $1500 is a lot of money. Perhaps it represents an all-inclusive vacation, a new laptop, much needed car repairs, or a portion of tuition. Whatever it represents, if $1500 were placed on the table in front of us, it’s unlikely that any one of us would simply pick it up and throw it in the garbage.

And yet thanks to food waste, throwing away large sums of money is what the average Canadian household does. Think about that. Every month, your household tosses about $125 worth of food into the garbage.

What makes this number all the more concerning is that 850 thousand Canadians still need to visit some form of food security service every month. That’s about 1 in 40 Canadians – possibly someone in your neighbourhood.

Obviously there is a disconnect. How can we have so much that we’re willing to throw $125 away every month, while at the same time people in our neighbourhoods struggle to put together a nutritious meal for their family?

Last year, Dr. Daniel Gillis[1] and Danny Williamson[2] partnered with Linda Hawkins[3], the Guelph Wellington Food Access Working Group, and the Guelph Food Round Table, to explore the disconnect between abundance and need. It quickly became obvious that the issue wasn’t due to a lack of willingness to help, it was a lack of communication; donors were unaware of what they could donate, when they could donate, or where they could donate.

Dr. Daniel Gillis, PhD Statistics, Assistant Professor in the School of Computer Science, University of Guelph, Co-founder of the Farm To Fork project

Dr. Daniel Gillis, PhD Statistics, Assistant Professor in the School of Computer Science, University of Guelph, Co-founder of the Farm To Fork project

To address this issue, Gillis and Williamson founded the Farm To Fork project. The goal – increase the quality and quantity of donations by connecting donors directly with the needs of the emergency food service providers. In September, they presented the concept to Gillis’ third year School of Computer Science class at the University of Guelph. Over the course of the fall semester, 30 passionate undergraduate students moved the project from idea to working prototype.

Some of the 30 designers of the Farm To Fork website

Some of the 30 designers of the Farm To Fork website

Since January, Lee-Jay Cluskey-Belanger, and Benjamin Katznelson – members of the original Farm To Fork class – have been working to finalize the prototype. The system will allow any emergency food provider the ability to create a grocery list of needs, including fresh produce, non-perishable, or non-food items. Donors will be able to log into the system, identify a nearby pantry (for example), browse their grocery list, and select which items they’d be willing to donate. The system will also send an email reminder on the day the donor has identified as their typical grocery day.

But before the Farm To Fork solution can be launched, it has to be beta tested to ensure that it functions properly. This means hiring several students from the original Farm To Fork class. To cover the expenses associated with beta testing, the Farm To Fork team is trying to raise $15000 through the Microryza crowdfunding platform. The campaign ends May 19th. If you want to help support the Farm To Fork project, please consider donating (https://www.microryza.com/projects/farm-to-fork).


For more information, follow Farm To Fork on Twitter (@Farm_2_Fork), like us on Facebook (https://www.facebook.com/FarmToForkGuelph), of follow our blog (http://farmtoforkguelph.wordpress.com/).

[1] Assistant Professor and Statistician, co-founder of the Farm To Fork Project, School of Computer Science, University of Guelph.

[2] Consultant, and co-founder of the Farm To Fork Project.

[3] Director of the Institute for Community Engaged Scholarship, University of Guelph

Fortnightly Feast – vol. 6.2 (Sustainable Food Systems)

Does your health insurance company support your local farmer?
CSA wellness rebates boost local food systems and increase sustainable agricultural practices … while giving consumers a little extra pull in shaping our national food supply.  Maybe policymakers will take note. Read more


Local Farmers Plant Seeds for Sustainable Food Hub in Central Vermont
The mission of the Farm-to-Table program is to provide universal access of locally grown foods through education, marketing and distribution.  Read more

Value-Added Food at the Mad River Food Hub
What products do local restaurants, retailers, schools and hospitals regularly use? Among these products, where do they value freshness and quality most? Of these products, can we reconstruct them with the local ingredients presented to us from our initial question?
Read more

Simcoe County Feasibility Study: Regional Food Distribution Hub
See the Stakeholder Focus Group Day’s presentation [pdf], including information about the project and feedback provided on barriers and solutions.

Community Infrastructure

Cooperative Groceries: Is this the Future of Community Food Retail?
Imagine shopping at a grocery store that only carries local products with prices set by members of the community, rather than a corporation. Read more

We envision The Mustard Seed becoming a beautiful place to shop, a place that promotes food access, connection between local producers and consumers, and a vibrant sense of community. Read more

The West End food Co-op will: Promote co-operative values and ownership; Act as a catalyst for local food security by coordinating community driven food initiatives; and Provide the local community with a full-service grocery store that focuses on selling products that are ecologically sustainable, local and healthy, such as fair trade and organic. Read more

Food Systems Approaches

First Nations Development Institute Awards $375,000 to 10 Native Food-System Projects under the Native Agriculture and Food Systems Initiative (NAFSI), which addresses issues confronting tribes and Native communities as they seek to strengthen the food system in their communities, improve health and nutrition, and build food security. Read more

Bioregion Food System Study
Led by Kwantlen Polytechnic University’s Institute for Sustainable Horticulture, the three-year initiative -the world’s first bio-region study aiming at increasing food security- will lay out a plan for stakeholders and governments in the Lower Mainland, Sunshine Coast and Sea to Sky Corridor to create a regional food system. Read more

The Sustainable Food Cities Network is an alliance of public, private and third sector organisations that believe in the power of food as a vehicle for driving positive change and that are committed to promoting sustainable food for the benefit of people and the planet. Read more