Serving Up Food Literacy at UBC

16. Salad for lunch with lettuce harvested from the garden.JPG

We work with Farm to Cafeteria Canada because we believe that university and college students across the country should be able to access high quality, healthy, sustainably and locally sourced foods. We work with students all over Canada who want to see a system wherein they know what they’re eating, where it came from, and how it fits into the broader food system.

Often, when we talk about this, we are asked “what would this look like? Is this even possible at post-secondary campuses?”

The answer is yes, and it’s already happening.

Gather, at the Vanier Residence of UBC, combines fresh, locally sourced food with a focus on sustainability and education to provide meals to students that are healthy and increase student food literacy.

We spoke with Steve Golob, the Residence Chef for Gather at Vanier, who told us about their innovative approach.

Seasonal ingredients are sourced directly from local farms, posters explaining where the ingredients are from are prominently displayed, and chefs are on the floor to help students understand what’s available and where it came from. Farmers are even invited to come in and explain what it takes to provide the food the students are eating.

The menu is designed based on student engagement and surveys, meaning students are directly involved in deciding what’s available. The approach means that not only are Steve and the Gather at Vanier team serving up high quality meals, they’re turning Gather into a learning lab that increases student food literacy and engagement in the food system; it’s an inspiring example of what’s possible when campus food services focus on health, wellness and education.

Steve summed up his philosophy like this: “quality education needs quality food.” We couldn’t agree more.