TORONTO, June 6, 2017 /CNW/ - Four Ontario colleges are launching pilot projects aimed at having more locally grown food available for students on campus.
The pilot projects are part of a local food procurement initiative led by Mohawk College in Hamilton with financial support from the Government of Ontario, in partnership with the Greenbelt Fund.
The initiative is aimed at encouraging colleges to buy their food from local suppliers in their communities. The initiative would promote healthy food options for students, reduce greenhouse gas emissions by reducing transportation, and support local food producers.
Algonquin College in Ottawa, Collège Boréal in Sudbury, Fleming College in Peterborough and Humber College in Toronto will carry out pilot projects to replicate and validate local food initiatives used at Mohawk and to also develop new initiatives.
Results from the pilot projects will be used to help build the province's first local food procurement framework for Ontario's 24 public colleges in early 2018. The framework will support colleges in improving the student experience, enhancing the sustainability of campus food services operations, and supporting local farmers and economies.
"Given the unique challenges our northern sites face in regard to local food procurement, Collège Boréal is excited to be conducting a food origin audit as part of the local food procurement initiative led by Mohawk College. We are grateful for the Ontario Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs and the contributions from the Greenbelt Fund, and hope our project helps us to identify ways to better support our regional economies, ensure our practices are more sustainable and improve our student experience. We also have the expertise to help address some of our unique challenges and hope the audit identifies opportunities for future applied research projects." – Lyne Michaud, Collège Boréal Vice President Academic.
"Algonquin College is proud to be working with Mohawk College on this outstanding initiative. We are committed to the triple bottom line of sustainability and this program helps us honour that mandate by providing our students with healthy choices while supporting our local community, businesses and entrepreneurs at the same time." – Cheryl Jensen, Algonquin College President.
"Fleming understands the importance of using local ingredients in seasonal menus and fully supports the Office of Sustainability and the Mohawk-led Greenbelt project in developing a pilot program focusing on this initiative, and providing education to our faculty, staff and students." – Travis Doak, Fleming College Director Housing, Food & Conference Services and Student Conduct.
"This research will serve to educate future generations on the availability and benefits of purchasing locally-sourced products. By helping to shape our own tendencies with greater information, we as a school can impact life-long behavior in the students we teach and serve in our classes and businesses." – Ryan Visser, Retail Director, School of Hospitality, Recreation & Tourism, Humber Institute of Technology and Advanced Learning.
"Our four college partners have strong track records of success in sustainability. We're excited to build on the momentum of this project by testing solutions in a broad range of food service environments. The local food pilot projects will help build a transferable and scalable framework for bringing even more Ontario-grown food to campuses across the province." – Emily Baynes, Interim Manager, Mohawk College Sustainability Office.
"As a major partner with colleges and universities across the country, working with Mohawk College and our other partners on this important initiative is an incredible opportunity for Chartwells. Through our Sustainability and Wellness platform, we recognize the importance of locally sourced products and this initiative will help us identify new and innovative ways to create industry-leading sourcing best practices that will benefit not only the schools and their students but local farmers and producers." – David Smith, Vice President Chartwells.
"This initiative will bring exciting benefits to the province and its students. It will provide students with healthy options, support the regional economy, and improve the sustainability of college foodservices." – Linda Franklin, President and CEO of Colleges Ontario.
"With support from the Government Ontario through the Local Food Investment Fund, Mohawk College is leading the way in making it easier for college students across Ontario to choose fresh, local food. When public institutions embrace local, they are strengthening their communities and supporting the powerhouse agri-food sector in Ontario" – The Hon. Jeff Leal, Minister of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs.
"We're pleased to see Mohawk College move to the next phase of their local food project and launch a pilot project at 5 Ontario colleges to get more Ontario food onto students' plates. This project has the opportunity to make significant change to how colleges source food and increase local food sales in Ontario." – Burkhard Mausberg, Greenbelt Fund CEO.
- Food services at Ontario's 24 colleges serve approximately 237,000 students daily, with estimated annual sales of $65 million.
- In 2016, the Greenbelt Fund, in partnership with the Ontario Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs, provided Mohawk College with $100,000 in funding through the Local Food Investment Fund (LFIF) to develop the first provincial local food procurement model for Ontario colleges.
- The project is comprised of three phases: industry research; pilot projects; and the development of the local food procurement framework.
- The research phase was completed in March 2017.
- The four colleges will receive up to $10,000 in matching funds to support the pilot projects.
- The research report and results of the pilot projects will be used to create a local food procurement framework to be presented at a research summit this fall.
- The final framework will be released in early 2018.
- 85 per cent of the 4,000 students surveyed agreed it is important for colleges to support sustainability by serving local food options
- 78 per cent of surveyed students agreed that serving more local food increases the quality and nutritional value of on-campus food options
SOURCE Colleges Ontario
For further information: Contacts: Algonquin College - Ruth Dunley, Communications Manager, 613.406.0970; Collège Boréal - Lyne Michaud, Vice President Academic, 705.560.6673 ext. 2692; Colleges Ontario - Scott Brownrigg, Senior Communications Advisor, 416.456.2146, [email protected]; Fleming College - Tania Clerac, Sustainability Projects Coordinator, 705.324.9144 ext. 3045; Humber College - Nadia Araujo, Communications Co-ordinator, 416.675.6622 ext. 5479, [email protected]; Mohawk College - Emily Baynes, Interim Sustainability Office Manager, 905.575.1212 ext. 3267, [email protected]