Sustainability, equity, worker welfare, animal welfare, biodiversity and carbon emissions are just some of the issues at stake when it comes to our food choices – and not surprisingly, these issues are important to many New College students.
With this in mind, New College launched a new position this academic year: Food Systems Coordinator.
“Food has become a common theme across New College,” says June Larkin, New College Vice-Principal and Equity Studies Program Director. “The position of Food Systems Coordinator was developed to support food activities at the college and to create a network of food scholars, instructors, community workers and activists interested in equity and food issues.”
Lori Stahlbrand is the Food Systems Coordinator. She was a national broadcaster for the CBC; co-wrote Real Food for a Change, a Canadian bestseller; worked with the World Wildlife Fund on ecological agriculture; and founded Local Food Plus, an award-winning non-profit which partners with New College to bring local sustainable food to the New College cafeteria and other locations on campus. Lori is currently pursuing a PhD in food systems issues. She previously taught a course (Research Practicum in Food Security) here at New College, which was a predecessor to our Community-Engaged Learning Program. In addition to her new position as Food Systems Coordinator, Lori rejoined New College last year as an instructor in our New One: Learning Without Borders program. She teaches Food Matters, a first-year course looking at globalization and citizen engagement through several lenses, one of which is food.
“I’m available as a resource around food sustainability and equity issues,” says Lori of her Food Systems Coordinator role. “The package of food, equity and sustainability is such a perfect fit with New College and what the College has been known for, in terms of social and ecological justice.”
“I hope to feed students’ interest in these issues and introduce them to everything that’s happening here in Toronto,” she continues. “I want to help them make the connection between their own food choices and the impact on their own lives, their community and the planet.”
So far this year, Lori has organized a number of food-systems events for students and the community, including a panel on food and public art, and a webinar on World Food Day for which we partnered with Food Secure Canada. That event was part of a month-long series on global food equity delivered in partnership with several organizations. Up next is a talk by Pat Mooney, an internationally-recognized critic of the global food system.
Our geographic location not only lends itself to access resources for events and other initiatives, it also gives students many opportunities to see the real-life impact of food systems issues.
“Toronto is a very exciting city around issues of food and equity,” says Lori. “Toronto is one of the most respected cities in the world for new thinking about food. We have one of the leading food policy councils, several important organizations dealing with urban hunger, and many exciting food-centred social enterprises. I want to bring this energy to New College and help students connect with it.”