Today’s fair trade symposium to consider the food we eat

What are the key issues in sustainable purchasing? What are the important aspects of fair trade and sustainable food initiatives? These are just a few of the many topics that will be discussed today at a symposim entitled Sustainable Purchasing: Engaging Students and Community Stakeholder in Sustainable Food and Fair Trade.

Presented by the Business & Society Program in York’s Faculty of Liberal Arts & Professional Studies, the symposium will take place from 8:30am to 5:30pm in Founders Assembly Hall, 152 Founders College, Keele campus.

The symposium will have a particular focus on sustainable food initiatives. Fair trade has been widely promoted at York in recent years due to the efforts of the late Howard Daugherty (right), a professor in the Faculty of Environmental Studies, who was responsible for the development of the Las Nubes fair trade coffee initiative. The Las Nubes Student Club and the Fair Trade Coalition have been very active in continuing the work of Daugherty and with the support of York Food Services in Campus Services & Business Operations; they have ensured the availability of fair trade coffee at a variety of locations around York campus.

A key topic considered throughout today’s symposium is the role of fair trade policies at Canadian universities. This topic will be discussed in the context of recent efforts to launch a Fair Trade University program in Canada. In the United Kingdom – where 100 institutions have become Fair Trade Universities – a program was developed to promote more consistent and effective approaches to developing policies for participating universities.

The morning panel will investigate the promotion of sustainable food at universities and consider the question of what constitutes sustainable food, with presentations from: Mark-Jan of FoodShare; York alumna Linda Burnside of Alternative Grounds, a fair trade coffee company; Kim de Lallo of the Ontario Natural Food Cooperative; and York environmental studies Professor Rod MacRae.

Left: Las Nubes Coffee is York’s fair trade brew

A second panel and workshop will investigate different models of sustainable food service delivery. Sherman Kreiner of the University of Winnipeg will speak about how his institution has worked with Diversity Food, a local social economy enterprise, to introduce a more varied and nutritious menu, to promote local sources and to more actively engage the local community (including the promotion of more sustainable food options and the hiring people from marginalized groups in the local community). Jean-Emmanuel Bouchard of the Quebec Student Cooperative Association will talk about the role that student cooperatives play in delivering sustainable food options on campuses across Quebec. Jaco Lokker, the director of food services and head chef at the Chestnut Residence at the University of Toronto will speak about his experience working with Local Food Plus, a Toronto-based local food certifying body, to increase their residences procurement of local food and offer more sustainable food options.

In the afternoon panel, Michael Zelmer of TransFair Canada, Trent University political science Professor Gavin Fridell and Bill Barrett, the president of WearFair, a fair trade cotton garment cooperative, will discuss the issue of the importance of fair trade policies.

Right: York Professor Darryl Reed helped organize today’s symposium

The afternoon workshop will focus on existing fair trade policies and initiatives at Canadian universities. McMaster University Professor Don Well and Meri Kim Oliver, vice-president of student services at Trent University, will speak about the implementation of fair trade policies on their campuses. Steve Glassman, director of Bookstore, Printing & Mail Services at York, will speak about the Bookstore’s recent decision to stock t-shirts made with fair trade cotton.

Additional panels will focus on the experience of student-run business in promoting sustainable food, methods for supporting student-run business and the efforts to organize, educate and administer for sustainability.

For more information on the Fair Trade Symposium, download a copy of the symposium poster or contact Professor Darryl Reed at ext. 77812.