Become a Real Food Researcher


Real Food Researchers are the designers, builders and thinkers behind the

Real Food Challenge - sound exciting? Then read on!


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Current Research positions:


-Student Standards Committee - Round 2 running February - April


-Applied Research - select campuses only





Student Standards Committee


About the Student Standards Committee: The Real Food Movement is on a mission to increase the amount of socially-just, ecologically-sound, community-based, healthy and humane food - what we call Real Food - at campuses across Canada.  But first, we need to define what Real Food means.  The Student Standards Committee is a team of student leaders who have the important task of contributing to the design of Real Food standards in order to make this project:






-Relevant and responding to current social and ecological contexts






February-April 2017: Round 2 of the Student Standards Committee will help design the Real Food Guide by assessing certifications.


[October-December 2016: Round 1 of the Student Standards Committee helped to design the Real Food Rubrics to determine what products qualify as Real Food.]





-2 Committee Co-Chairs (1 Meal Exchange staff and 1 Student Volunteer)

-6-10 Student Representatives


Commitment and Responsibilities:


-Attend weekly meetings and fulfill homework requirements, February 6th - April 7th, 1-3 hours per week

*We recognize that your availability has the potential to be varied, particularly depending on the time of the semester.


Benefits of Participation:


-Meal Exchange engages post-secondary students and food organizers across Canada: As a member of the Student Standards Committee, you will engage with hundreds of students, academics and professionals across Canada


-Meal Exchange is the only national organization that works with food systems on the postsecondary level: Be part of the first team in Canada to set cohesive, robust and transparent standards for campus food purchasing


-The Real Food Challenge will assess and evaluate current institutional food procurement and help advise on opportunities for change: As a member of the Student Standards Committee, you will have the opportunity to inform and shape the Real Food Challenge standards that will transform institutional purchasing for years to come


-Meal Exchange is connected to the national and international food movement: Receive handson training and experience with a professional, highly-esteemed youth-based organization, with public acknowledgement for your contribution and the opportunity for positive references and résumé building


 Our Team: Student Standards Committee Round 1


Laura Profile

Laura Armenio, Co-Chair of the Student Standards Committee

Laura Armenio is a recent Suma Cum Laude graduate from York University and completed a Specialized Honors B.A in International Development Studies. For the 2015/2016 school year, she was elected as a representative on York University’s Senate and Academic Policy, Planning and Research Committee, while also maintaining her standing as a member of the Dean’s Circle of Student Scholars and Golden Key. From the 2014 to 2016 school year, she interned as a Research Assistant at the Canadian Centre of Diversity and Inclusion and co-authored Canada’s 1st Benchmarking Study on Supplier Diversity. Recently, she co-founded and works as a Chief Communications Officer for The Interwebz, while volunteering at Covenant House and standing board member of Green Campus Coops. Happily, Laura is enrolled in York University's Development Studies Master's Degree and will explore the business case for social justice; specifically concerning the relationship between fair trade and ethical consumerism. Since beginning her journey with Meal Exchange, she is having a wonderful time integrating her academic knowledge with the Real Food Challenge on the Student Standards Committee, to fully realize sustainability initiatives on campuses across Canada.


Joelle Profile

Joelle Schaefer, Co-Chair of the Student Standards Committee

Joelle Schaefer is a Ph.D. student in the Department of Community Health & Epidemiology at the University of Saskatchewan. In all avenues of her life, Joelle is dedicated to making her beautiful home of Saskatoon, Saskatchewan the best it can be for everyone who lives there. Her passion for community-driven and sustainable initiatives aimed at improving the health outcomes of all people is why she joined the SCC. In the summer months, Joelle can be regularly found either in the garden or on the Ultimate Frisbee field and during the winter she will often be knitting gifts for family and friends or enjoying their company in the snowy outdoors.










Norma Profile

Norma Appollos, Student Standards Committee Researcher

Norma is an undergraduate student at the University of Victoria. She is originally from South Africa, but after ten years in Canada, she considers this beautiful country her new home. Norma joined this committee because she passionate about environmental sustainability and believes in fueling our bodies with whole and natural resources. She fascinated with the First Peoples of Canada and the traditional relationships they held with mother nature. The consumption of natural resources and the preservation of the Earth requires balance. She has personally transitioned to a plant-based diet and the remarkable lifestyle that comes along with it. She believes that encouraging others to walk on the path to the bottom of the food chain, is so fulfilling. There is only more beauty to be found on this never-ending green road.




Charlotte Profile

Charlotte Bolderson, Student Standards Committee Researcher

Charlotte’s interest for food began with a childhood spent in restaurant kitchens, farmer’s fields, and on fishing boats. This passion has been driving force for her studies at Vancouver Island University. She participated in the Real Food Calculator pilot last spring, and helped Meal Exchange plan their first ever conference in British Columbia. She believes in food transparency and access in a socially just industry, and that students have the capabilities to ensure these values are upheld on their campus. Inspired by these student-led initiatives across the country, Charlotte applied to the Student Standards Committee to expand her understanding.














Omar Profile

Omar Elsharkawy, Student Standards Committee Researcher

Omar Elsharkawy is an Environmental Studies and Sociology student at Carleton University in Ottawa. His current research is looking at how we define success in building a just and sustainable food system in Eastern Ontario. Omar Joined the SCC committee as it’s an immense opportunity for students across the country to collectively set standards for our campus food providers.






Coco Profile

Costanza Graziani, Student Standards Committee Researcher

Coco is originally form italy, but did her BA at McGill and is now doing a Master in Innovation and entrepreneurship and writing her thesis on urban agriculture, backyard gardens and cooperation within the neighbourhood of Park Extension, Montréal. Her love for food comes from living in a country where local, traditional foods and small producers are all around; a bit more recently, she started getting more informed about the traditional ways of the food industry and got increasingly involved with projects and people who are trying to find alternative and sustainable ways to live and to eat. The more she reads, learns and experiences food the more she loves it and is appalled by the injustices and inequalities of the current system - and that is why she joined the Socially Just and Community Based committees.




Chelsea Profile

Chelsea Kingzett, Student Standards Committee Researcher

Chelsea is an undergraduate student in the McGill School of the Environment. Chelsea’s background in food systems began when she co-founded a student run coffee bar that offers sustainable and ethically sourced food purchasing alternatives to students at McGill. More recently, she has been interested in connecting farmers to urbanites through farmers markets with a goal to increase food sustainability by increasing urban agriculture production. In winter 2016, Chelsea took part in the trial audit for the Real Food Challenge at McGill. In her position as a member of the Student Standards Committee (SSC), she hopes to utilize the experience with the RFC audit process to help better version 2.0 of the Real Food Challenge standards. Chelsea will be sharing her knowledge of the food system to improve the RFC’s standards for Community Based, Ecologically Sound and Socially Just foods.



Jasmine Profile

Jasmine Robertson, Student Standards Committee Researcher

Jasmine Robertson is a white settler on the unceded territories of the Lekwungen and WSANEC peoples (Victoria BC). She is in her final year of an undergraduate degree in political science and Indigenous studies at the University of Victoria. As coordinator of the campus Food Bank & Free Store, she works to provide students with free resources and advocate for student food security. Her interest in pursuing systemic change to food systems and concern for the ability of marginalized communities to access good food led her to join the Student Standards Committee. When not at UVic, she can be found doing crafts with kids and exclaiming over the natural beauty of the island.




Jessica Profile

Jessica Schellenberg, Student Standards Committee Researcher

Jessica is a student at the University of Victoria. She joined this committee because she believes that growing "Real Food" is the best way to heal our communities, the earth and our bodies. She believes that all life has equal purpose, from seeds that grow to ancient trees to the birds who help them do so; a healthy planet needs them all.









Kim Profile

Kim Stone, Student Standards Committee Researcher

Kim Stone is a student in Environment and Business Studies at the University of Waterloo ON. Kim joined the SSC as an opportunity to finally make a difference and use her passion to drive change within not only my her University, but across Canada as well. Kim wants to stir up conversation and thought towards the challenges within our food system and the unexpected external impacts associated with creating change and implement new solutions in the long term. She is extremely passionate about the environment and animals. Kim always enjoyed spending the majority of her time outdoors, at her cottage in the summers, camping and hiking. Over the past two years she started researching the impacts a lot of her common decisions were associated with, and realized that she not only needed to change my own actions, but also those around her.



Aaren Profile

Aaren Topley, Student Standards Committee Researcher

Aaren Topley is doing is his masters in the Social Dimensions of Health Program at the University of Victoria. He has a keen interest in how policy development impacts food literacy. His area of research is on the repurposing of public infrastructure to have a food system, with a specific focus on healthy food in schools. With his in-depth knowledge of food literacy, he brings insight into the health committee of Meal Exchange. In his spare time, Aaren loves to cook and ride his bicycle.



Applied Researchopportunities for select campuses


Current projects for the Spring 2017 semester include:


-Researching standards for sustainable seafood


-Researching standards for health and wellbeing through food on campus


-Researching impacts of campus food purchasing on agricultural land



If you are interested in desinging an applied research project in collaboration with the Real Food Challenge, please contact This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.














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