Le point sur l’alimentation locale: les écoles, campus et établissements de santé s’expriment

F2C Photo 40-1Selon un sondage publié aujourd’hui, intitulé  Le point sur l’alimentation locale – les écoles, campus et établissements de santés’expriment (2013) les actions pour approvisionner les organismes publics en aliments sains, cultivés localement et de manière responsable prennent de l’ampleur dans pratiquement toutes les provinces et tous les territoires du pays. Et l’appétit va grandissant.

Ce rapport est le premier et unique sondage pancanadien sur le sujet. Pas moins de 239 spécialistes en alimentation et en nutrition œuvrant dans les écoles, les campus et les établissements de santé ont répondu à un questionnaire à propos des avancées de l’approvisionnement local. La recherche révèle qu’un nombre significatif d’organismes publics au pays travaillent sur plusieurs fronts afin d’offrir davantage d’aliments locaux aux étudiants et aux patients.

Pour en savoir plus, visitez le site internet du Campus Food Systems Project. 

Local Food: Canadian Schools, Campuses and Health Care Facilities Speak Up

F2C Photo 40-1

According to new report commissioned by Farm to Cafeteria Canada, activity to bring healthy, local and sustainable foods into public agencies is gearing up in almost every province and territory in Canada – and there is a hunger for more.

The Report- Local Foods- Canadian schools, campuses, and health care facilities speak up (2013) is the first pan-Canadian survey of its kind. In all, 239 food and nutrition specialists working within schools, campuses, and healthcare facilities answered questions about efforts to bring local food into their institutions. The responses show that a significant number of public agencies in Canada are working along multiple fronts to put more local foods on patient and student plates

“Students ask – Is it local? Is it fresh? They have a much higher expectation of their dining experience. They want fresh, healthy, local and seasonal food – food that keeps them alert, active and focused” says Steve Golob, Chef at the University of British Columbia’s Vanier Place Dining Hall and member of Farm to Cafeteria Canada’s Advisory Committee.

SYC is helping to build awareness, education and action across Canadian Campuses through its work with Meal Exchange and the Campus Food Systems Project. Find out more by visiting our website or contacting food@syc-cjs.org

GrassRoutes: Students Cycle to the Arctic to Promote Sustainability

I am passionate about all sorts of things, but cycling, the Arctic and climate change are definitely near the top of my list. This summer, I am going to pursue all three passions as I join three other young Canadians on a biking adventure in northern Canada. Our “Journey to the Midnight Sun” starts in Vancouver and ends in Inuvik, though I will be participating only in the Whitehorse to Dawson City leg. The purpose of this journey is to promote climate change education and sustainable living. Along our journey, we will deliver interactive workshops about climate change and environmental leadership in partnership with BYTE . We will also raise funds for a northern bike sharing co-op and make a short documentary. I cannot wait!

I am biking with three other inspiring Canadian youth: Saskia, Graham and Gavin. We are all members of GrassRoutes (www.grassroutesbiking.com) – a group of students who believe in biking as a means of personal growth and social change.

This summer, GrassRoutes will build on the success of its two previous journeys. Last summer, GrassRoutes biked from BC to Nova Scotia, raising $14,684 for youth environmental projects and hosting 22 environmental leadership workshops for 680 Canadian students. This spring, GrassRoutes biked from Erizan to Istambul to raise funds for a grassroots microfinance initiative. GrassRoutes cannot wait for its next adventure!

With only a few weeks until I head off, I am getting extremely excited for my adventure! I have never been on a long bike trip, so this will definitely be a step outside of my comfort zone. I am looking forward to learning more about myself, my lovely team mates and the Yukon during this journey. I am particularly excited to speak with Yukon youth about climate change and learn about their perspective on this issue that affects all Canadians.

The entire GrassRoutes team is very grateful for the support of the Sierra Youth Coalition’s Education Fund. With SYC’s help, The Sierra Club Canada Foundation set up an online donation page for us and is offering charitable receipts for donations!

To learn more, get involved or donate, please visit our website at www.grassroutes.com.

Peace & bicycle grease,

Jessica (and the rest of the GrassRoutes team)

Jessica is a student and former chair of the Sierra Youth Coalition’s Executive Committee

An Update from the Fossil Fuels Divestment Movement

 Guest Blog By Elysia Petrone, Out-going SYC Excomm member and Eastern Field Organizer with Fossil Free Canada

I first caught wind of the fossil fuel divestment movement this past fall at Powershift 2012. It was great to hear Bill McKibben talk about the success of the ‘Do the Math’ tour and to learn how many campuses had joined the movement in the United States. After Powershift, SYC was involved in working on the Serious Issues Tour. I attended the workshop in Toronto. There, I met Yasmin Parodi and Kyuwon Kim. Since the three of us were no longer in school, we figured our best point of intervention and divestment strategy would be to pressure McLean’s Magazine to rank the universities on how ethically they invest. Our petition through change.org received over 10 000 signatures. MacLean’s was not agreeable to add this new parameter in its ranking system, but we are hopeful they will write an article on divestment in their fall publication.

Since McMaster University is near by, I decided to launch a divestment campaign there. It did not take long to assemble a core team and start collecting petition signatures. Fossil Free Canada’s website is the place to go to create a petition and launch a new campaign. The website has loads of useful information, including the divestment toolkit which provides a guide on how to start a campaign, a guide on messaging and useful sample letters.

Divest McGill has been leading the way on divestment at Canadian Universities. Their website was helpful in determining strategy.

The group already had done their research and received some impressive endorsements. Through a Freedom of Information request the group knew exactly how much their university had invested in the Tar Sands and the Plan Nord.

In February, I was hired as the Eastern Canada Field Organizer for Fossil Free Canada. My first task was to help coordinate a Fossil Fools National Day of Action. This event really helped unify the national campaign. It was great to see so many creative actions in over a dozen campuses across the country. It has also been great to see the enthusiasm and energy build around this campaign in Canada in a relatively short time. Fossil Free Canada’s Facebook page had only a few hundred likes to start the new year and is now just over seven hundred.

It has also been amazing to celebrate the mini wins the campaigns have experienced along with way. For example, when the University of New Brunswick Fredericton Student Union passed a motion in favour of divestment or when 76% of Trent students endorsed divestment in a school wide referendum. At McMaster, there have been bumps in the road. (Taking away the social license of the riches companies in the world is not going to be easy), but there have also been successes. CUPE 3906 voted unanimously to support Fossil Free McMaster’s divestment campaign and OPIRG McMaster at their AGM voted to divest their own investments.

The next victory for the campaign could come on May 23rd when the Board of Governors at McGill University meets to discuss Divest McGill’s appeal made through the Committee to Advise on Matters of Social Responsibility. You can help this campaign by signing their open letter to the Board here. Even if Divest McGill does not get the answer they are hoping for, as we learned at the Eastern Canada Divestment Training for Trainers this past weekend, they would use a negative response as fuel to keep escalating their campaign.

The training this past weekend in Montreal, led by Cameron Fenton, the National Director of the Canadian Youth Climate Coalition and Amara Possian was awesome. It brought together almost 30 divestment trainers representing campaigns at Lakehead University, Trent, University of Windsor, McGill, Concordia, Dawson College, University of Ottawa, Laurentian University, University of Toronto, McMaster University, Mohawk College and Dalhousie. Fun was had, the movement was fused, connections were made, and an exceptional curriculum was learned. I am excited to watch what this group of people can bring back to their campuses and accomplish in the new school year. Image

To end, here is a favourite saying of mine from Joshua Kahn Russel “We are unstoppable, Another world is Possible!” If you interested in starting a campaign at your own campus, faith group or municipality send me an email at elysia@gofossilfree.ca and I will send you some links to get started.

Creative Solutions to Campus Food Waste

Often when we think about the food system we think about the process of getting food from farm to plate – the planning, planting, production, harvesting, processing, distribution, marketing and preparation of food. But what happens to the food that gets wasted along the way and the food that gets left on our plates?
Unfortunately, close to half of all food produced worldwide is wasted — discarded in processing, transport, supermarkets and kitchens. On campuses, this waste is often transported off of campus which results in transportation greenhouse gases in addition to the methane emissions produced by landfills. Food waste is discouraging and costly for campuses – which is motivating campus dining halls to find new and innovative ways of reducing waste.

Mt. Allison's Food Waste Campaign

Mt. Allison’s Food Waste Campaign

During their East Coast Campus tour, the Campus Food Systems Project National Coordinators Caitlin and Sarah saw how campuses were taking creative and diverse approaches to reduce waste.

  •  Memorial University conducted an audit to determine how much waste was being generated and ways to reduce waste produced.
  • St. FX found that going trayless is a great way to reduce the amount of food wasted and is saving 80 000 gallons of water used in the cafeterias annually.
  • Dalhousie installed scraping stations which help build awarness of food waste and encourage students to only take the amount of food they plan to eat. Scraping stations are a part of the Green Report Card where Dalhousie received an “A” grade for food and recycling. Mt. Allison found scraping stations have decreased food waste by 44% over the past five years.
  • Campuses are also finding creative ways to reduce and reuse campus food waste. Mt. Allison puts the organic food separated at its scraping stations through a food pulper to remove 88-90% of its waste. This is then sent to the twin Big Hanna composters which will be used on campus grounds.

These are just a few of the many creative solutions campuses are finding to build awareness about and actively reduce and reuse food waste. We’d love to hear other ideas and initiatives – feel free to send questions, comments and ideas to us national@studentfood.ca

Time to Back the Tap!

For Bottled Water Free Day, we came up with a list of 10 reasons why bottled water is a bad choice and shared them on Facebook and Twitter… But that can be a bit hard to read, so we decided to gather them all in one place here! This isn’t a top 10 list per se – no reason is really that much more significant than any other, but together they add up to a lot of motivation to Back the Tap!

By the way: If you’re looking for citations to back these points up, check out the resources on www.backthetap.ca – they’re well researched and broken down by different issues… Thanks to a lot of hard work from the Polaris Institute – Institut Polaris

1. Bottled water is bad for our green future. Transportation isn’t the only way it uses fossil fuels. Plenty of oil goes into producing those bottles… When you add it all up, it takes 3.4 megajoules of energy to make each 1L bottle, cap, and packaging… And around 3 million barrels of oil each year for all the bottled water consumed in Canada.

2. Bottled water is bad for the climate… After all, it takes a lot of CO2 to transport those bottles from the plant, to the store, to your door… And since some of those bottles come from halfway around the world, whereas tap water travels on average less than 10km, bottled water contributes a heck of a lot more to global climate change.

3. Bottled water is a huge waste… Litter-ally (teehee)! Only about 48% of plastic beverage containers in Canada are recycled, with the rest either going to landfill or ending up in places like the Pacific Garbage Patch… By the way, that works out to around 150,000 tonnes of plastic per year. Yuck.

4. It’s out of line… with the prices of other “commodities”. Even without having to pay fees and royalties (see point #6), the price of a bottle of water is higher than a litre of gas.

Although we think that thinking of water as a commodity in the first place is a bad idea, it’s an interesting point! Oh, and we recognize that the price of gas doesn’t account for externalities (like Climate Change, air quality etc). but neither does bottled water.

5. Bottled water is bad for the planet… It actually takes 3-5L of freshwater to produce a 1L bottle of water – which means it’s depleting our limited resources of freshwater. While freshwater supplies in Canada may SEEM pretty nearly unlimited, major watersheds like the Great Lakes are already under pressure from Climate Change, and Canada is far from the only place your bottled water may be coming from…

6. Bottled water privatizes a public resource. While other industries that profit off of our natural resources (minerals, forests, oil, etc.) all pay fees/royalties to access them, water rights are typically doled out with little or no strings attached. That means the water they’re using goes from a public resource to a private good with no corresponding compensation for Canadian citizens.

7. Who wants to be a victim of false and/or misleading advertising? Bottled water tries to play on your fears and claims it’s the “freshest, cleanest water”… Implying tap water isn’t. But bottled water often loses blind taste tests to tap, and is often just tap or well water in plastic… So those claims are pretty dubious.

8. We don’t really know what in bottled water… Because it’s qualified as a food product, water bottling plants are typically only inspected every 3-5 years by the Canadian Food Inspection Agency. Tap water is regulated provincially/locally and is tested and inspected multiple times a day. Results of those tests are also shared publicly, whereas there is no similar requirement for bottled water. While some companies may report on testing they do, there is no universal standard for what to test and how often, and there is nothing to guarantee they’re not just cherry picking results, as their testing is essentially done for marketing purposes.

9. Bottled water hurts watersheds: water from the tap is typically taken from and returned to the same watershed, but most bottled water travels between watersheds – sometimes as far as halfway around the world… That means local water resources can be reduced or even depleted by commercial water bottling facilities.

10. Bottled water hurts your pocket book: the cost of a bottle of water from a vending machine is usually about $2… The cost of a litre of water from the tap is less than a penny.

Welcome SYC’s New Campus Food Systems Coordinator!

Since fall 2011, Dana Lahey has been co-coordinating the Campus Food Systems Project with Caitlin Colson from Meal Exchange. This project works with 9 campuses across Canada to help students improve the multi-stakeholder organizing, procurement practices, and applied student research for the food systems on their campuses. Dana has new and exciting opportunities ahead of him and will be working with SYC one day per week from Austin, Texas.

To continue on with Dana’s great work from Ottawa, we’re pleased to announce that Sarah Archibald has joined the SYC team!

Sarah is no stranger to food systems as she has farmed in 5 countries, spent four years studying Global Food Systems and Agro-Ecological Agriculture and has volunteered and worked with a variety of food security and food sovereignty-focused organizations.  Sarah also has campus food systems experience as she was a volunteer, researcher and then coordinator with the McGill Food Systems Project, which is how she met Dana four years ago!

Sarah’s excited to work and share with the inspiring Campus Food Strategy Groups, the SYC and Meal Exchange teams as well as many other individuals, groups and organization.

Sarah’s always open to ideas, conversations and new recipes! Feel free to contact her at food@syc-cjs.org

Sustainable residences contest


Bad environmental habits when arriving home? Not at Quebec’s university and CEGEP residences.

The second edition of the PJDD’s Sustainable Residences contest will take place between February 4th and 15th. The residences will compete for different prizes in 4 categories:

  • Energy efficiency
  • Waste management
  • Sustainable management
  • Participation

Last year Laval and McGill (down town and Macdonald) took the prizes home. This year CEGEP residences are invited to join the competition with the chance to win tickets for a park of Arbre en arbre, recycling stations of NI Corporation, T-shirts of PLB and many other prizes.

The contest is an excellent occasion for participating residences to emphasize sustainability initiatives in these dynamic places of public and private life that are often under represented in sustainable development projects. At the same time it offers an opportunity for students to engage themselves for a sustainable living environment by posing concrete actions in a friendly competition.

Follow the contest life on http://www.pjdd.org/concours-residences-durables and leave your comments to encourage the participants.

Happy Holidays from the Sierra Youth Coalition!

2012 has been a great year for SYC! Starting back in February with the Western Canada Sustainable Campuses Conference, our first LEAForum for Ottawa youth at the Canadian Museum of Nature in April, the National Food Summit in August, the National Sustainable Campuses Conference and PowerShift 2012 in October, and our Sweet 16 launch in November… It’s been a busy year!

It’s incredible to think of how much we’ve done this year, but we couldn’t do it without your help. That’s why this holiday, we ask you to continue supporting SYC. This holiday season, give the gift of sustainability, youth empowerment and a better Canada. How?

  • Become a member of SYC’s Sustainers Circle by becoming a monthly donor. Your gift of $5, $10 or $20 a month help keep SYC’s incredible work going. You can either support us directly by donating here, or be eligible for a tax receipt by supporting the programs we run in cooperation with the Sierra Club Canada Foundation here.
  • Make someone’s holidays a bit more sustainable. Instead of giving material gifts, make a one-time donation on behalf of someone and we’ll send them a special holiday thank-you card.
  • What better gift than telling the youth in your life that they have the power to make real change?  Sign them up for a membership today and they’ll be invited to an exclusive online town hall where we’ll listen to their wants and concerns for sustainability in Canada. Plus an SYC membership comes with some extra gifts…Access to SYC decision making, discounts on SYC events, 40% of VIA rail travel and more!
  • Give yourself a holiday gift… Purchase a SYC membership for yourself and you’ll get access to the same benefits. Or, if you’re now over 30 and no longer a student, join Sierra Club Canada and you can still enjoy discounts on SYC events, plus get access to regional decision making in the club.

Thank you to everyone who helped make 2012 a huge success! The team at SYC wishes you all a happy, healthy and sustainable holiday season. Until next year…

Blog invité: Mes 6 leçons du Sommet National des étudiants sur la nourriture

1- Tout le monde mange, tout le monde change
Comment motiver les mangeurs de ce monde à changer leurs habitudes? Joshna nous conseillait de commencer par une approche neutre. Selon elle, il faut d’abord réussir à créer un lien avec l’autre personne. Son truc! Réussir à faire vivre à son interlocuteur un souvenir concernant la nourriture dont il garde un sentiment positif (ex. : penser au meilleur repas que votre mère préparait lorsque vous étiez petit!) Lorsque le lien est bien établi avec votre interlocuteur, préciser votre besoin pour qu’il vous aide à changer le monde par l’alimentation responsable.

2- Un groupe c’est composé de deux choses toi et… le groupe, il faut prendre soin des deux!
Vous travaillez au sein d’un comité pour régler des problèmes reliés à l’alimentation, mais il règne une certaine confusion? Selon Carly, la plus grosse difficulté est que : « Dans un groupe, la perception du projet est souvent claire dans la tête de chacun, mais le projet commun n’est pas bien défini! » Sa solution! Définir ce projet commun, puis écrivez un document clé relatant l’idée du groupe par rapport à votre projet et signer ce document, même si c’est juste pour un an!

3- S’il y a un problème, on peut le régler!
Rencontrez-vous des gens qui ont une vision tellement différente de la vôtre qu’il ne constate pas les enjeux? Au lieu de s’enrager à essayer de changer leur vision du monde, Layton nous encourageait à préparer notre projet et attendre des moments charnières (un renouvellement de contrat de fournisseur, un changement de personnel, un audit environnemental, etc.) avant de prendre une approche offensive.

4- Apprendre des autres, mais agir avec notre intuition
Vous est-il déjà arrivé d’avoir la tête remplie d’opinions, de conseils et de données, mais de ne pas savoir comment agir? Dans un domaine où l’esprit scientifique est roi comme celui du développement durable, Nitha nous donnait cette sage leçon : « soyez curieux, prenez les avis de tous, mais agissez avec votre “guts” ». Les dynamiques des campus au Canada sont très différentes et votre « feeling », « guts », « intuition » (appeler ça comme vous voulez!) peut devenir un outil très utile pour sortir de cette complexité apparente.

5- Ensemble on peut changer plus de monde plus rapidement!
Tina nous a confirmé que grâce aux étudiants, entre autres ceux de Mcgill, l’Aramak un géant de l’alimentation change de plus en plus ses pratiques. Aussi, des établissements d’enseignement réservent une partie de leur jardin pour offrir la récolte à Tracy qui les distribue dans des banques alimentaires locales. À Toronto, des étudiants ont créé le Dig in campus agriculture network pour supporter et encourager les projets de jardinage communautaire. Des initiatives comme ça, le sommet en a relevé des tonnes! Joindre un mouvement comme The National Student Food System, c’est motivant et cela sauve beaucoup d’énergie, car on peut apprendre énormément de toutes ces initiatives.

6- Il faut faire évoluer « quoi? » à « maintenant quoi? »!
Qu’est-ce qui vous a surpris dans cet article? Qu’elle ait la notion apprise qui pourra vous aider dans le futur? Comment pouvez-vous agir dès maintenant pour mettre en pratique cet apprentissage? C’est ainsi que Lisa a terminé sa conférence, j’en fais donc de même. Pour ma part, maintenant que je connais The National Student Food System, j’en fais mon devoir d’aider les étudiants québécois à prendre leur place au sein de ce mouvement national. J’y travaillerai entre autre chose à travers la campagne Café durable qui vise pareillement l’amélioration des services alimentaires sur les campus et qui propose plusieurs idées, des études de cas, un tableau compilation des projets existants, etc. Ensemble, ces deux projets offrent une multitude de ressources à tous les niveaux qui je crois sont des incontournables pour allé de l’avant maintenant. »

Vous étes curieux d’en apprendre davantage sur les personnes citées je vous incite à lire leurs biographies au http://studentfoodsummit.ca/?page_id=123

Alexandre Ouellet
Agent de développement durable
Partenariat jeunesse pour le développement durable (PJDD)
Attaché à la FEUQ