Let’s Talk Food on Campus: How does the academy perpetuate food insecurity?

For our March community event TYFPC and Let’s Talk Food UofT met to discuss student food insecurity on university and college campuses and what various youth groups are doing to help address this issue.

Tune in to the panel below to learn about:

  • The issues students are facing and how this impacts many elements of their lives (by exploring the connections & implications on mental health, equity, academic success)
  • The different student-led responses to food insecurity on campus & hear from student leaders how they suggest other students can get involved
  • The institution’s role in the issues and responses to student food security
  • The challenges students face in their organizing work

Missed the event? Scroll down to watch the live stream!

Event Partner

Let’s Talk Food UofT

Let’s Talk Food UofT is a group of students working towards affordable, nutritious, and sustainable food in residences throughout the University of Toronto. They formed in response to changes made in food services during COVID-19 that negatively impacted students on campus.

You can learn more about their ongoing work on Instagram (@letstalkfooduoft) and check out this news article published in the Fall about their advocacy efforts


Moderator bio:

  • Joshna Maharaj is a chef, a two-time TEDx speaker & activist who wants to help everyone have a better relationship with their food. Joshna is the author of Take Back the Tray: a movement to reconnect food with health, wellness, education, and rehabilitation in public institutions around the globe. It’s an amazing story about how a chef took on the different institutions, including campuses, trying to make change. 

Speaker bios:

  • Sterlin Vaillancourt is a Master of Social Work student at the University of Toronto, researcher and community organizer. She has been working in residence life for 3 years and works closely with staff and students at New College and Chestnut to change the food systems at UofT. 
  • Asra Khan is the Food and Services Coordinator for the OCAD Student Union. She is passionate about student-facing issues revolving around Food Security and advocating for healthy eating habits. At the OCAD Student Union, her responsibilities include overseeing the Student Pantry, the Wellness Box Program, and helping with the Hot Lunch Program. 
  • Gabi Hentschke is a 3rd year International Development student at Humber College and a Director at the school union, IGNITE. She moved to Toronto 4 years ago from Brazil and is passionate about community building, advocating for food justice, and sustainability. She is currently developing a Sustainability Action Plan for IGNITE, framing sustainability as a holistic commitment.
  • Mike Lawler is a PhD student at the University of Toronto. His work engages with street food vending in Thailand but he is also more broadly interested in issues of food sovereignty, agricultural and market infrastructure, and food security issues throughout university campuses. Outside of his studies, he helps to organize several farmers’ markets in Toronto, volunteers with Community Food Centres Canada, and cycles.

Get Involved!

Are you running a campus group that is addressing food justice and food insecurity on your university campus?
Are you offering students services or resources that could help students get access to healthy and affordable food?
Or maybe you just know of a local restaurant or food truck that offers student discounts or healthy, low-priced meals?

Whatever it is, we’re looking to compile these resources here for other students to have access and share! We know that it can be tough to find good food on campus and we want to help students increase their access to healthy and affordable options all-year long!

Event Recording

Register for our March Community Event!

Join the TYFPC and Let’s Talk Food UofT on March 3rd from 6-7:30 pm for a discussion about student food activism across the Toronto region! 

Food insecurity is an issue that disproportionately impacts post-secondary students- with nearly 40% of students experiencing food insecurity prior to COVID-19. Still, there remains a large disconnect between student needs and values, and the kind of food system that is curated on campus. In response, students are often leading the charge to advocate for and increase access to affordable, healthy, just, and sustainable food on campuses. 

This virtual panel discussion will highlight several amazing student food leaders to better understand the food issues facing students and ways to create change.


Spotlight: COVID-19 and the Food System

For our December community event, the TYFPC hosted an interview series, Spotlight: COVID-19 and the Food System, to highlight the different initiatives groups were doing to address food justice issues during COVID-19.

TYFPC interviewed four youth food leaders from across the city who are leading the charge for food justice within their communities during the pandemic. We’re super inspired by the amazing work of Veronica from Second Harvest, Rachel from The Abibiman Project, Cindy from Ryerson’s Urban Farm and Arianne from the Toronto Restaurant Workers’ Relief Fund!


Youth Food Leaders and COVID-19: TYFPC Talks to the Toronto Restaurant Workers Relief Fund (TRWRF)

As part of our series Spotlight: Youth Food Leaders and COVID-19,  join us as Zartasha from TYFPC talks to Arianne from the Toronto Restaurant Workers Relief Fund (TRWRF) about their efforts to help with job security in the hospitality sector during COVID-19 and how they’re delivering aid to restaurant workers.

You can view the interview below and on our Instagram (@toyouthfoodpolicy)


Youth Food Leaders and COVID-19: TYFPC Talks to The Abibiman Project

As part of our series Spotlight: Youth Food Leaders and COVID-19, Alexandra from TYFPC spoke with Rachel from The Abibiman Project about her initiative’s fundraising for the Afri-Can Foodbasket during COVID-19,  how she’s using food to highlight different African cultures’ cuisine, and discussed about what food justice means to her.

You can view the interview on our Instagram (@toyouthfoodpolicy). Keep scrolling to view the transcript!