Students, alumni and partners are aligning for good food for all!
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Meal Exchange's Top Highlights of 2014:


2014 was a year of great change and great opportunity. This year, Meal Exchange worked directly with over 100 student organizers on 42 campuses across Canada to run a variety of Meal Exchange programs, which engaged over 12,000 student participants!
From Students for Good Food for All, to Skip-a-Meal, to Local Food Days, to the annual Student Food Summit, Meal Exchange is
re-shaping food systems in Canada for all. With the added engagement of hundreds of campus stakeholders and dozens of community organizations made this year one that focused on building a more just & sustainable food systems from coast to coast!

We’ve picked a few highlights from the year that will no doubt raise the bar for what’s going to be possible in 2015:

1. Student-hosted Events Educated & Inspired


This year, the Meal Exchange Network hosted over one hundred food-focused education and engagement events across the country. From hosting peer-to-peer workshops like Stomach This! to hosting garden celebrations to a Waste-Reduction Hack-a-thon, campuses across the country demonstrated how food can be a tool for collaboration, innovation and celebration.  These events have provided education and excitement for thousands of students and community members across the country.

2. Meal Exchange Supported Over 100 Food Agencies and Programs


Connecting with community is a key element of Meal Exchange’s programming. Through Trick or Eat 2014, Skip-a-Meal and Clear-the-Shelves  over 6000 volunteers and dedicated students raised almost $400,000  worth of food for food agencies and over $12,000 worth of funds. Through running these programs, organizers have shared deep learnings and 96% indicate that they have a better understanding of how to connect with and take action in their local community.

3. Campuses Are Leading Local, Sustainable Food Procurement


Campuses across Canada purchase almost $500 Million Dollars of Food every year.  With the support of Meal Exchange students and passionate chefs, food service staff, administration and the campus community - campuses are beginning to recognize the value of local and sustainable food.  One example worth noting  - Ryerson University purchased approximately $700,000 worth of local and sustainable food last year alone, creating significant support for growers and producers in Southern Ontario, and attracting some significant media attention to boot!

4. Meal Exchange Partnered with Community Food Centres Canada

 

Over the summer, Meal Exchange joined forces with a fast-growing movement to create places in low-income communities across Canada that bring people together to grow, cook, share and advocate for good food for all. Meal Exchange is working with students to explore how educational resources can be applied to support groundbreaking Community Food Centres, and to find ways to apply the good food principles that underpin Community Food Centre's work on campuses.

5. The National Student Food Summit Became a Leadership Retreat


This year’s retreat-style Summit hosted in Mansfield, Ontario, brought together over 40 students from Newfoundland to British Columbia. Our far-reaching network took this opportunity to build connections with each other, learn from guest speakers, share out the precedents they’re setting on campuses, and forge lasting friendships! One of the major takeaways from the summit is that there is tremendous interest to work together to bridge the divide between food access and food sustainability in order to make the slogan “good food for all” a reality.

6. Meal Exchange is Hosting National Working Groups


As a result of tremendous student expertise and energy, Meal Exchange is hosting networks to support students in creating more  just and sustainable food systems. The Beyond Campus Food Banks Network and Campus Garden Network both re-vision how campuses can provide good food for all. The Real Food Challenge Working Group brings together student researchers ensuring that campuses are purchasing real - local, fair, humane and ecologically sound- food for all.

7. Trick or Eat Sparked a National Conversation


Beyond collecting food to provide immediate support to local food agencies, Trick or Eat also set out to raise awareness about the rising hunger levels in Canada and get Canadians talking about longer term solutions to the problem. We asked:

"With hunger in Canada on the rise, what can Canadians do to end it?”

We got almost 1,000,000 impressions on twitter, with people from many walks of life (everywhere from students to elected representatives) engaged with the campaign. Here's what people had to say!

8. Meal Exchange Welcomed our New Director and MX Alumnus

In November, we introduced our new leader Anita Abraham, who once lead the Meal Exchange chapter at the University of Guelph when she was a student. “This organization has always held a special place in my heart, and now I feel a fire in my belly to help the Meal Exchange network reach new frontiers of connectedness and impact.” Read more of her message to students, alumni and partners.

9. We Supported Student Energy at Food Secure Canada Assembly

The Food Secure Canada Assembly was Canada’s largest gathering of food organizations and activists of the year. The Assembly saw the power of the youth and student food movement with a large number of young attendees- many a part of the Meal Exchange Network. The Youth Caucus gathering allowed young participants to engage on a variety of important topics including social justice, new farmers, campus organizing and the future of fisherfolk. Read more about the Youth Caucus and Food Secure Canada's plan to make food an election issue in 2015.

10. Working with Each One of You!

None of the above would have been possible without the incredible support of people giving their passion, time, insight, funds and things (whatever they have to contribute) to advance the cause of students building just & sustainable food systems. On behalf of Meal Exchange staff and board, we’d like to thank everyone who has contributed to our shared mission and welcome your continued support into the future.

 

Wishing all of you a restorative holiday! 'Til next year :)
 

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