Food Services signs pledges to improve food sustainability on campus

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Continuing York University’s efforts to become one of Canada’s leading campuses for food sustainability practices, York’s Food Services program YU Eats has partnered with the Humane Society International and Health Canada, signing two pledges to create a healthy food environment and offer more plant-forward options to the community.

One of the commitments YU Eats has signed is the Food Guide-Friendly Pledge, a voluntary initiative that encourages publicly funded institutions to create healthier food environments. This initiative is overseen by Health Canada, the federal government department responsible for national health policy. The other commitment is the Forward Food Pledge, driven by animal protection organization Human Society International and designed to increase the availability of plant-based options in the food service industry.

In signing both pledges, YU Eats is looking to not only prioritize the health and well-being of students and staff but actively work to reduce the environmental impact of food production and promote a sustainable food system.

“Through our collaboration with the Humane Society International and Health Canada, we’re prioritizing sustainability while emphasizing healthier menu options,” says Tom Watt, director of Food Services. “These pledges underscore our commitment to fostering a more environmentally conscious and health-oriented campus.”

Among the changes that will be made to dining hall and catering menus will be an increase in vegetables, fruits, whole grain options and plant-based proteins.

“Increasing the intake of plant-based food represents the most significant individual action toward reducing one’s impact on the planet,” says Dahlia Abou El Hassan, York’s registered dietitian. “Plant-based foods are inclusive and suitable for various dietary needs, including religious and cultural requirements. Research consistently shows the benefits of a plant-based diet, including a reduced risk of chronic diseases like heart disease, cancer and diabetes.”

By enhancing the food environment at YU Eats dining locations, York University demonstrates its commitment to community health and well-being. These initiatives align with the York University Academic Plan 2020-2025 and the University’s overarching mission to advance the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals.