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, CollĂ¨ge BorĂ©al 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 provinceâ€™s first local food procurement framework for Ontarioâ€™s 24 public colleges in early 2018. Â The framework will support colleges in improving the student experience, enhancing the sustainability of campus food services operations, and supporting local farmers and economies.
â€śFleming 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.â€ť â€“ Travis Doak, Fleming College Director Housing, Food & Conference Services and Student Conduct
â€śOur four college partners have strong track records of success in sustainability. Weâ€™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.â€ť â€“ Emily Baynes, Interim Manager, Mohawk College Sustainability Office
â€śThis 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.â€ť – 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 Ontarioâ€ť â€“ 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 Ontarioâ€™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