Meal Exchange’s history looks back over 20 years. As much as our organization has evolved, the core of our work has always involved empowering students and youth, and supporting youth leadership around food issues.

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2014 Students for Good Food for All

Meal Exchange works with 42 campuses across the country to build more just and sustainable food systems. The launch of Students for Good Food for All - and the beginning of a partnership with Community Food Centres Canada. See all the 2014 highlights here.

2013 Ontario Campus Food Systems Project

Meal Exchange launches the Ontario Food Systems Project with a focus on supporting more student engagement and education and ultimately more procurement of Ontario food to Ontario Campuses. Meal Exchange is now working on local, sustainable food production and procurement on 12 campuses across Canada. New projects including community kitchens, linking gardens to local food agencies and local food days are bubbling up across the country. Meal Exchange runs its largest Trick or Eat Campaign in history raising over $475,000 worth of food and $19,000 of funds for food agencies across the country.

2012 National Student Food Charter

The National Student Food Charter (click here to read!) was launched in August 2012 at the National Student Food Summit. The creation of the National Student Food Charter has connected students across the country in order to support student involvement in discussions of food on campus.

2011 Launch of the Campus Food Systems Project

Meal Exchange grows to be a 5 person organization after receiving funding from the McConnell Foundation to fund the Campus Food Systems Project in partnership with Sierra Youth Coalition. This project enables Meal Exchange and Sierra Youth Coalition to coordinate student efforts on nine university campuses with the aim of changing university food procurement policies to support local, sustainable food systems. Applied student research is used to increase the collective understanding of local, sustainable food procurement.

2010 Inaugural National BBQ Day

August 7th, 2012 was designated the first National BBQ Day, where Canadians from all across the nation were invited to bring their friends and neighbours together for a BBQ, for good food, good company and to raise awareness about hunger in Canada and how they can address issues of hunger and food security in their community and educate about the goodness of locally produced foods.

2009 StomachThis!

The first StomachThis!, a workshop on food security, took place on March 21, 2009 in downtown Toronto. Twenty youth aged 15-24 from a diverse range of cultural, socio-economic and educational backgrounds attended to broaden their knowledge of hunger and food security, and to learn how to take action by mobilizing their communities to make a change.

Chapter Award

The University of Guelph Meal Exchange Chapter is awarded the June Callwood Outstanding Achievement Award for Volunteerism in Canada. This award recognizes volunteers for exceptional leadership, innovation and creativity, and significant contributions to their community and the province.

2008 $2 Million Milestone

Since 1993, Meal Exchange programmes have generated 2 million dollars for those in need across Canada, 1.2 million of which was raised in the last 4 years.

Portraits of Hunger: 4 Corners

Meal Exchange with Bishop Strachan School in Toronto produces the first full length adaptation of Portraits of Hunger, 4 Corners, which was performed on May 20th & 21st at the Young Centre to raise funds for Meal Exchange and awareness for the 2.5 million Canadians facing hunger.

2007 Food for Thought

In partnership with the Ontario Association of Food Banks, Meal Exchange launches the Ontario-wide lecture series Food for Thought on campuses across the province.

Holiday Train

Meal Exchange partners with Canadian Pacific's Holiday Train programme to raise food and awareness for local food banks in communities across Canada and the U.S.

2006 The Student Food Network

The Student Food Network is launched as Meal Exchange’s first Social Incubator project. The website is launched as well at

Portraits of Hunger

Portraits of Hunger was a youth-led national theatre project featuring the stories of hunger in Canada from research and writing by students.The brain-child of the second annual leadership conference, Portraits of Hunger was Meal Exchange's second Social Incubator project.

2005 Trick or Eat Online

Meal Exchange works with Artez Interactive to bring Trick or Eat to the next level by launching an online fundraising and donation campaign through the Trick or Eat website.

2004 The Student Food Network

With generous support from, Meal Exchange forms the Student Food Network, a student-founded, youth-led initiative that connects campus food centres to each other a network of resources.


Meal Exchange hosts its first annual national conference aimed at students, titled ‘Understanding Through Action: Leading Social Change.’

2003 Finding a home

The 401 Richmond building in downtown Toronto, a restored industrial building that is home to several artists, galleries, and other creative, artistic, and nonprofit organizations, becomes Meal Exchange’s permanent home.

2001 Case Study

Chapters at the University of British Columbia, University of Victoria, and the University of Alberta-Augustana campus were formed. The highlights of this year were the receipt of a grant from the McConnell Family Foundation, as well as Meal Exchange’s history and expansion being used as a case study in a university marketing textbook.

2000 Recognition

Meal Exchange was the recipient of much public notice in 2000, with being described as one of “Canada’s most innovative non-profit organizations,” in a Maclean’s article,as well as being a runner-up for the prestigious Peter F. Drucker Foundation Innovation Award. Palmer Jarvis/DDB also designs an extremely successful print campaign for Meal Exchange, so much so that posters are stolen from campuses to hang in dorm rooms and student housing across the nation.

1999 Trick or Eat

The first Trick or Eat campaign is run this year at St. Thomas University. Meal Exchange chapters are also started up at St. Thomas, St. Mary’s and Brock University.

1998 Charitable status

In addition to expanding the campus chapter network to include the University of Windsor, in 1998 Meal Exchange became officially registered as a charitable organization..

1997 Trillium

Meal Exchange received its first grant, courtesy of the Ontario Trillium Foundation.

1996 Growth

Rahul and Ryan Saunders wrote their thesis on creating and managing a non-profit organisation, as a guide for Meal Exchange’s expansion. This lead to Meal Exchange expanding to other universities, with the University of Guelph being the first to the table. Meal Exchange’s first chapter director at the University of Guelph was a young Dave Kranenburg.

1993 Roots

As a seventeen year old undergraduate at Wilfrid Laurier, Rahul Raj faced an interesting choice of what to do with his excess meal plan points at the end of the year. Ignoring a friend’s suggestion to buy a lifetime supply of gum, and inspired by his grandmother’s teachings about the importance of helping those in need, Rahul instead decided to use those points to support a food drive on campus. It was on this principle, that students could spring into action to make a difference, which lead to the founding of Meal Exchange. Through Meal Exchange, Wilfrid Laurier hosted its first successful food drive, with students donating hundreds of meals using their meal plan cards.