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Fixing the food system

Correction: As a result of a printing error in the Nov. 16 issue of the Gazette, this article contained text from the adjacent article, “Giving choice a voice.” The Gazette regrets this error.

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Looking for a bite to eat? There are lots of places to grab food on campus and more are on the way.

But according to some students, not everyone’s needs are being addressed by the current system.

Holly Lobsinger, co-founder of the Campus Food Strategy Group (CFSG), says Dal has some of the best sustainable food systems of any university in Canada, a conclusion she came to after talking to students across the country. But she still thinks Dal’s system could be better.    

“We need more transparency about where the food is coming from,” says Lobsinger. “We really need to educate the student body on what our food system is right now so people can make the most educated choice by themselves.”

CFSG would also like to see more options for people with dietary restrictions.

Lobsinger, along with Lars Boggild and Owain Meyer-Macaulay, has set about to change the campus food system. They’ve started the CFSG with the goal of connecting food stakeholders, from regular students to organizations such as Chartwells, the Loaded Ladle, Aramark and the university administration.

The CFSG is one of ten organizations from various Canadian campuses participating in the Campus Food Systems Project, a nation-wide initiative started by the Sierra Youth Coalition and MealExchange to change food on university campuses.

The CFSG kicked off the year with an Eat ‘n’ Greet in the McInnes Room on Nov. 5, which brought students and stakeholders together to learn about sustainable food systems and engage in discussion.

“I think that people from Chartwells and Aramark are receptive, but also very confident that our food system is top-notch right now,” says Lobsinger, who organized the launch with Boggild.

She thinks it may be a challenge to convince them there are ways to change and make things better.

Chartwells, who manages food services in the SUB, is enthusiastic about the new group. The food service director, assistant director, and executive chef all attended the Eat ‘n Greet.

“We support the initiative and we’d like to know what we can do,” says Adam Bellefontaine, assistant food service director with Chartwells.

“I see us as a big player. Maybe not as big as other stakeholders, but I think we can do a lot.”

Aramark did not have a representative at the launch event, but met with Meyer-Macaulay this week. Chartwells has also met with Meyer-Macaulay outside of the launch.

The CFSG is not currently focusing on changing the food system, but on understanding how it works.

“This year we don’t expect to see change immediately. We think that it’s important to get an idea of what’s going on at the school right now in terms of food so that we can change things later,” says Lobsinger.

The biggest challenge to changing food systems at Dal may be external. Lobsinger says existing systems don’t have the ability to provide enough local and organic food for all of Dal.

“It’s difficult in the way that we can try to change the culture around food here as much as we can, but really our provincial and national food systems need to change.”

Lobsinger says it’s important the project is nation-wide.

“People are trying to create this change not just in one concentrated place, but everywhere, so maybe we can get this systemic change in Canada that could support what we want.”

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