Why Food?

I’ve heard many students, community members, and staff members ask, “Why does food matter? Why should I care about food issues and what Meal Exchange is doing?” Here’s why:

  1. Food is a human right. [1] However, many Canadians cannot afford or access good, healthy food and experience food insecurity. According to a 2012 study, 4 million Canadians, including 1.15 million children, experience some level of food insecurity.
  1. Food production, distribution, and retail and waste are one of the major leading causes of climate change. An estimated 44-57% of all human-produced greenhouse gas emissions come from a global food system that is increasingly unsustainable.
  1. Food directly impacts the mental and physical health of our communities.
  1. Food issues can be addressed at the community level. We can help create just, sustainable, and healthy food systems through grassroots efforts such as community gardens, kitchens, and food centres.
  1. Food brings people together. Food issues cannot be addressed without talking about, and exemplifying, the positive, enjoyable, life sustaining, nutritious, and social experience food can and should be.

We need to address food issues. As the product of the world’s largest economic sector and a necessity of life, food is essential to the health of our minds, bodies, communities, and environment.

[1] 1948 Universal Declaration of Human Rights, Article 25

The Food Rescue Movement and How You Can Get Involved!

From Macleans to the Guardian to the Globe and Mail, from France to Germany to BC, this week everyone is talking about food waste! Food waste is a huge issue, as over 30% of the food we produce worldwide is wasted, and yet millions of people continue to experience food insecurity every day.

Luckily, there are actually a few local organizations who are working hard to rescue Calgary’s food from the trash! LeftOvers Calgary saves foods from local bakeries, grocery stores and restaurants and donates them to local organizations (saving the environment and helping organizations that are addressing local hunger at the same time!). Alternate Root, conversely, works to redirect surplus food from producers, teach food skills using this excess produce, and raise awareness about food waste. Both of them are going to be at Sustainability 4 Breakfast, talking about Calgary’s food waste solutions (along with Hop Compost and Calgary Waste & Recycling Services)!

While, according to the Guardian, 67% of food waste is ‘binned’ by consumers, and 26% is binned by shops and restaurants, the food that is thrown out by businesses is a lot easier to salvage and control (like with France’s new tabled law). Most post-agriculture waste is consumer waste — and that means that one great way to get involved is to reduce the food that ends up in your garbage! Think Eat Save has some great tips for reducing your food waste (and saving money while you’re at it)! (Follow the link to learn more about food preservation as well as more in-depth tips.)

1. Always shop with a grocery list so that you buy only what you need for the week’s meal, and make sure that you know what’s in your fridge before you go shopping too!

2. Eat or re-use your leftovers! Leftovers can be a perfect lunch — or freeze the leftovers and incorporate them into a new dish!

3. If you really can’t save it, start a backyard compost!

One of Calgary Meal Exchange’s projects this summer will be to work on researching and developing a food waste reduction initiative (like UNBC’s wonderful Food Recovery Project), and we hope that the University of Calgary and Aramark, our new food service provider and a partner on the project, join the movement to rescue food from the landfill.

Join the Food Rescue Movement, and do one (or more!) of these three things today!

  • Sign up for Sustainability 4 Breakfast to learn about the initiatives in Calgary!
  • Start a grocery list or backyard compost, and reduce your personal food waste!
  • Follow us on Twitter or Facebook to learn more about U of C’s food waste and what Calgary Meal Exchange is doing about it this summer!

As always, email us at calgary@mealexchange.com if you have any questions or want to get involved.

In good food for all,


Guest Post: On Don Cherry’s seal burger

In response to Don Cherry’s comment on seal meat, one of the members of Meal Exchange wrote:

In reflection, two things stood out.

First, coming to this article I knew little to none about seal meat. I can imagine Don Cherry probably didn’t know much about it either but unfortunately went on to make statements asking Ron Maclean why he had a seal burger, commenting if he was a barbarian or a salvage. This created controversy, offending people who did consume seal meats. As a respected host and opinion on Coach’s Corner, I would think he would be more careful with the choice of ‘jokes’ (if it was one) he made if that was his intention.

As a psychology student, Cherry made generalized statements that clearly had a repercussions in the media. Simply put, if the social norm of diets does not currently include seal meat, it does not excuse anyone from commenting on different foods that they did not like. Beef, lamb, pork are more regulated and culturally accepted. Rabbit or seal are not as culturally accepted, and clearly not by Don Cherry. “Sealing is important to Inuit culture and tradition” tweeted Leona Aglukkaq and in her culture, it is a norm. I then pose the question where does moose, caribou or bison meat stand? They are not regulated as extensively as the aforementioned but it seems more of a cultural delicacy than barbaric.

Either way, it was a comment that was not necessary and as Ron Maclean had attempted to make the pun after Don Cherry had interrupted him, it was quite flippant.

Second, my first thought was the sustainability of hunting of seals and if it was ethically approachable. There are groups that are against seal fisheries but for a more clear summation of the current situation on seals, I would like to direct you to Government of Canada website: [http://www.dfo-mpo.gc.ca/fm-gp/seal-phoque/myth-eng.htm]. It discusses the myths and realities of Canadian Seal Harvest providing more background information. There do exists seal population, no endangered and are hunted on a commercial basis. It is also a traditional part of Inuit culture.

In summary, I see seal as rather a delicacy like caribou and bison, and that’s what I believe Ron Maclean also thought as he was visiting Newfoundland. Somehow, this went sideways with an insensitive comment by someone who wasn’t even there. My wish is that it’s not solely a “hope” that Don Cherry won’t make such statements again, but that he actually learned a little more from this incident. He has refused to comment anymore and so I guess we will never know.

If you’re interested though, you can always send him a message, tweet @CoachsCornerCBC.

Michael Kwok

5th Year BSc of Psychology

University of Calgary Meal Exchange Ambassador

First Things First: a Formal Foundation for a Function

In the realm of event management, having a theme is important. It’s simply fundamental. Whether the scope of the event is small (like a workshop) or grand (like a conference), having a clearly defined theme ensures focus and cohesiveness throughout the event, because decisions made by organizers are then intentional and effective.

Up until this past Monday, Hunger Week was a blank slate. The event is a collaboration between the University of Calgary’s Students’ Union and the Meal Exchange chapter, and from my understanding the event has always carried a certain flexibility. It was decided on Monday that this year we would gear the event towards wellness. That is:

Hunger -> Food -> Wellness

The theme of Wellness lends itself a balance of specificity and adaptability. Student life involves a series of stressors: academic performance, social life, family life, a part-time job, volunteering–these constitute the recipe list of the modern student’s to-do list in their post-secondary education, and so developing personal wellness is necessary to achieve success in the myriad areas. But don’t take it from me personally (because I’m still working on my balance); here’s the model the University of Calgary’s Wellness Centre uses–the dimensions of wellness that impact health and wellbeing:

  1. Physical
  2. Academic and Career
  3. Emotional and Psychological
  4. Financial
  5. Social and Cultural
  6. Environmental
  7. Spiritual

Like I said: specific yet adaptable. The objective now is to develop a week of events and activities that promote a balance of these dimensions, using food as the platform. It’s not going to be easy, but contributing to a healthier campus is worth the effort. Meal Exchange and the Students’ Union can do some neat things together this semester–stay tuned.


The Road to Hunger Week 2015

If one were to peruse the archives of this blog, they will note that the most recent posts are from ten months ago, just in time for Hunger Week 2014. These posts are immediately preceded by one from fall 2012. For a blog that began in July 2011, there has been an admittedly low level of activity. That’s going to change today.

My name is Jessy and I’m one of the co-coordinators of the Meal Exchange chapter at the University of Calgary. Our chapter is part of a nation-wide network of campuses through which students engage their communities to address food security. As a student, I’m thrilled to have the opportunity to raise awareness of a social issue.

What can you expect from this blog in the next few months? Regular (weekly) updates on: event management, strategic planning, collaboration, team dynamics, student engagement, and of course, food security. This will culminate during Hunger Week (March 9 to 13), an effort to raise awareness, start conversations, and engage the campus community around food security both locally and nationally.

The chapter will also be hosting various Days of Service, which are sessions for students to get involved in a local cause while learning more about the volunteer sector in the City of Calgary.

It is my hope that readers will gain an appreciation for what Meal Exchange strives for, while also getting a glimpse into what student leadership is about–I’m a believer that any student can get involved on their campus and have an impact.

Be sure to follow this blog (there’s a neat button to your right) to stay updated.