If you live in Montreal or have spent any time here recently, you’ll know that healthy and organic food options are becoming more and more available in many boroughs. Franchises like Copper Branch, lunch places like Green Panther, and more up-scale dinner options like Aux Vivres or La Lola Rosa offer healthy, vegan and/or vegetarian options that are delicious and abundant. Prices, however, tend to be an issue—them tempeh bowls and Portobello burgers don’t come cheap!
And there sits Concordia University. At the downtown campus, a monolithic structure that looks about as welcoming as a giant stool turned upside-down. At Loyola campus, a more traditional university layout complete with ornate old buildings and a sprawling lawn—in the middle of a food desert, for there are few food options available within walking distance in this NDG neighbourhood.
In passing, nobody would assume that a food transition has been quietly taking place at Concordia for years and has, of late, burgeoned into an early-stages revolution. If you want to know where in Montreal to find healthy, affordable, and sustainable food options, then look no further! And if you find yourself outside of Montreal but are interested in finding out how this happened, read on!
This is a coming-of-age story that hasn’t quite reached its happily-ever-after yet but is not without its victories after years of heroic effort, strife, and adversity. The heroes of this story, unsurprisingly, are the students themselves.
The Great Regression
There was a time when Concordia had no one single food provider. Before 2000, the University had a variety of companies and groups using on-campus space to provide food options to students. The currently operating non-profit health food store “Le Frigo Vert” was operating under the name of “The Eat Your Peel Collective.” A group of students was gearing up to ride the anti-capitalist political wave happening at Concordia to start up a vegan soup kitchen on campus called “The People’s Potato.” Concern for the environment was growing. The mission to have numerous healthy, affordable, and responsible food options on campus seemed poised to succeed.
But in 2000, an exclusivity contract between Concordia University and Sodexo-Marriott (now Sodexo, one of the three major food service companies in North America), granted the company a monopoly over food services at Concordia. In-residence students had to sign up for an extremely expensive mandatory meal plan that permitted them “all-you-can-eat” access to Sodexo cafeterias for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. The food options were unhealthy, unappetizing, and barely accommodated for allergies, intolerances, or dietary preferences such as vegetarianism.
Meanwhile, on-campus groups were hard-pressed to secure space for their own operations, the People’s Potato (thank their lucky spuds) only winning their space in the Hall building after protracted negotiations with Sodexo. The Greenhouse Project also managed to save the old greenhouse from being scrapped, but more on that in a bit.
After 37 students became ill from food poisoning in 2001, Hospitality Concordia opened a bid for applications from multiple companies. There were several bids put forth by representatives of student groups, but the selection committee chose Chartwells (another of North America’s major food service providers) as the recipient of a twelve-year exclusivity contract over food services on campus, to expire in 2014. Over that period, Chartwells had nearly total control over menu planning, price setting, purchasing, retail outlets and residence meal plans (which were still mandatory and cost nearly $4,000 a year).
The only other options on campus were commercial chains with high waste and low nutritional quality, like Tim Hortons, and these were owned and operated by Chartwells. At the downtown campus, the for-profit arm of the Concordia Student Union (CSUACorps) had been leasing the mezzanine student space to the over-priced and under-achieving Java U café since 1998 to recover from debt. At Loyola, this predicament was made substantially worse by the campus’ distance from off-campus restaurants and cafes. It was, for all intents and purposes, nuclear winter for food options at Concordia.
And so their food movement lay not-quite-dormant beneath the snow.
Signs of Spring
In September 2013, a Food Advisory Working Group was put together to decide on a new service provider in anticipation of the expiration of the Chartwells contract in 2015, and student participation was encouraged. I won’t keep you in suspense– Aramark, the last of the three largest food service providers in North America, was awarded a five-year contract in 2015. However, participating students helped to ensure that there were contingencies placed upon the contract stating that Aramark was to integrate healthy menus, vegan options, and to rely on local suppliers, a move that has brought the corporate food service system at Concordia considerably closer to something resembling sustainable.
But that is only the tip of the seedling poking its way through the snow after twelve long years of patiently waiting. The quickly approaching end of both Chartwells’ and Java U’s contracts had sparked renewed interest in student-run food systems over the previous few years. In 2013, the Concordia Student Union began to plan for a new sustainable co-operative café at the Loyola campus. In the same year’s CSU by-election, students voted by referendum on whether to allow Java U’s contract to lapse and to facilitate the establishment of a student-run co-op café in its place at the downtown campus. Students were 87% in favor.
In 2015, the Concordia Food Coalition and the Concordia Student Union organized the second annual food conference at Concordia. Entitled Concordia Transitions: Taking Back the Plate, it emphasized the momentum being harnessed towards a fully student-run system.
The organizers knew what they were talking about. The Hive Café Solidarity Cooperative was finally open, running, and receiving plenty of business on both campuses. Meanwhile, the People’s Potato had been operating as a solitary downtown beacon of all things vegan and community-based since 2001; the Loyola Luncheon (Loyola’s free vegan lunch program) got up and running in 2010; the Concordia Greenhouse was developing increasingly abundant and exciting projects; the downtown campus had recently gained its very own weekly farmer’s market; and le Frigo Vert, Concordia’s health food co-op, had been serving its membership for nearly twenty years with no sign of slowing down.
Scroll through the following sections to learn about the affordable, sustainable, student-run food options on campus at Concordia University and how you can benefit from them!
The Hive Solidarity Co-op Café
The Hive Café is a space, welcome to absolutely everyone (except those looking to oppress), that provides healthy and delicious vegetarian food (with plenty of vegan options), fair-trade organic coffee from Santropol, and tea grown at the Concordia Greenhouse’s very own City Farm School. There is a Hive Café located on both of Concordia’s campuses.
Location and membership
Mezz Cafe: 1455 De Maisonneuve Blvd. W. H-290
Loyola Hive: 7141 Sherbrooke Street W. SC-200
Members of the Hive not only obtain a 10% discount on all of their purchases, but they become shareholders of the co-op and can make a positive contribution to the café’s menu and operations.
It costs $10 to receive a life-time membership. You don’t have to be a student to become a member! And, of course, you don’t have to become a member to become a satisfied customer.
Contribution to social sustainability
As a solidarity co-operative, their membership includes the Hive workers; users who have signed up as members; and support member organizations who have a vested interest in the café. According to Leigh Hoffman, Finance and Administration Coordinator at the Hive:
“Things just can’t be sustainable if they don’t involve people who are using, or accessing, or benefiting, or working in that space […] We’re based in a university, which is a learning institution, and I think in many ways what we’re doing here is quite radically different to the Café norm, and that provides lots of hiccups but also lots of beautiful learning opportunities. So I think what we offer is opportunities for people to learn some really important skills around organizational structure, organizational management, organizational decision-making, and that being done in a consensual horizontal way which is pretty revolutionary.”
The prices at the café are set not to make a profit, but to allow people access to healthy, sustainable, affordable food. Because of their local organic procurement policy (discussed in the section below), they can’t always make the prices as cheap as they’d like to.
“We’re trying to do a lot of things at the same time, as with most inspiring social and environmental projects, and all of those have a price tag with them […] We definitely don’t want to capitalize on it. We just want to provide it.”
Side note: People, I had a dream lunch made up of the best breakfast burrito EVER and a deliciously fresh sprout salad made with microgreens from the Concordia Greenhouse, and it cost me $5.90 in total after the 10% membership discount. I’m telling you, the food is delicious and the prices are loads better than for-profit organic vegan restaurants sprouting up all over Montreal right now.
Finally, the Hive has some really interesting programs in place. The Solidarity Food System allows people to pay for a meal in advance, which will be available for somebody in need to redeem later on for free. The Loyola location additionally provides the Hive Free Lunch program, whose mission is to serve accessible food to as many people as they can. Though they are not an organic food provider, all of their food is vegan and they get some of their ingredients from City Farm School and the Concordia Greenhouse, as well as a few Montreal-based food companies.
Contribution to environmental sustainability
The Hive has a strict procurement policy in place wherein 70% of the foods they offer need to be made up of local, organic ingredients (and in-season wherever possible) Additionally, it is in their mandate that they need to prioritize products that are human and animal welfare-approved over those that are not. According to Hoffman, they ask themselves the following questions when deciding on a supplier: “How is the company structured? How far away from us are they? What products do they offer? And are those products informed by an ethic?” Offering vegetarian and vegan foods is another way that this café cuts way down on their ecological footprint.
None of their on-site dishware is disposable, and their take-out containers, cups, and cutlery are super-sturdy and re-usable as well as compostable. They also provide incentives for people who bring their own food containers and coffee mugs. Finally, they have on-site composting and recycling bins and reduce their food waste by re-incorporating food scraps.
Key factors in the Hive’s success and plans for the future
Hoffman says that one of the most important source of the Hive’s thrive is the fact that the café responds to a very real need at Concordia.
“Universities are hard spots for people to take care of their bodies. ‘Cause everybody’s really stressed, folks are often young and haven’t necessarily had a lot of time and practice to learn how to feed themselves properly, and also we’re fed garbage, and people are poor, and what you can afford with not a lot of money is plastic food. So I think we’re successful in that we’re offering healthy, nourishing food for a community of predominantly people who don’t have access to that, or don’t have time or money to access that, and we try to do that in financially affordable ways.”
They disclosed that The Hive membership are discussing a program for re-usable coffee mugs, wherein these would be handed out to students with their to-go coffee instead of throwaway cups. At this point, that initiative is in its planning stages.
As for the bigger picture, Hoffman says that they would very much like to see Concordia students continue to harness current momentum towards eliminating large for-profit food service providers on campus. “Our hope is to replace that with food options that are student-run, horizontal, healthy, and affordable.”
This café is well worth a visit!
The Concordia Greenhouse
The Concordia Greenhouse, located on the 13th floor of the downtown campus’ Hall building, is an amazing warm and sunny space offering a peaceful lounge, free tea grown and brewed on-site, annual seedling sales, and a space for learning about how to make things grow and how to keep them happy.
Location and history
The Greenhouse is located at 1455 de Maisonneuve Blvd. W., on the 13th floor (take the main elevators to the 12th floor and follow the signs to the stairwell leading up to the 13th floor. Contact the Greenhouse for a wheelchair-accessible route).
The Greenhouse was originally created as a laboratory space for Biology students in the 1960s, when the Hall building was constructed. After the sciences moved to the Loyola campus, the Greenhouse went unused for many years and was slated for demolition in the early 2000s. The Concordia Sustainability Coordinator as well as a student working with Concordia’s sustainability group intervened and proposed that Concordia repurpose their greenhouse. After several years of discussion, planning, and renovations, the Greenhouse opened in 2006 as a space for education and research, with the atrium lounge opening its doors in 2008. The Greenhouse collects a student fee levy to fund their projects… of which there are many!
Atrium lounge: Warm and sunny space to hang out and drink tea open 11am- 5pm (closed in the summer). Also can be booked to host groups and events.
City Farm School: Student internship program that provides experience in urban agriculture and community engagement. Provide food for other student-run food groups on campus as well as host a weekly market stand at Loyola.
Epic Seedling Sale: Each May, the Greenhouse sells off hundreds of varieties of vegetable, herb, and flower seedlings at premium prices, all grown on the 13th floor or at City Farm School!
Four Seasons Growing: An educational urban agriculture program that experiments within the bounds of the greenhouse to provide organic, local food all year long. Source of food and tea for campus cafes, Farmer’s market the, and le Frigo Vert.
House Plant Propagation: An educational program wherein volunteers attend weekly sessions to learn about the many varieties of house plants and their care, while simultaneously looking after the house plants at the Greenhouse on a drop-in basis.
Workshops: The Greenhouse hosts up to five workshops per week on topics ranging from plant care to holistic herbal remedies. Prices vary; workshops open to everybody.
Contribution to social sustainability
Sheena Swirlz, Services Coordinator at the Greenhouse, says that the main benefits of the Greenhouse are what it provides the community. She thinks that the atrium lounge, with its quiet warmth and interesting space, can be a source of fine air quality; sunlight during the winter months as well as contact with plants, both of which have been shown to improve mental health; and a source of anxiety relief from drinking their relaxing and restorative teas.
“It’s not usual that you have green space available for free for anyone to go to, in the same way that we have […] So people come to study here a lot, students, but then people come to meditate, eat their lunch, everything like that.”
In tandem with the atrium space, their educational programs provide a dearth of ways to get involved with the urban agricultural movement and contribute to a more sustainable food system—no green thumb required!
“We provide experiential hands-on learning with accessible systems, and our drop-in volunteer sessions are very casual, so people with restricted schedules can come whenever they can. Two different topics, one’s with edible plants, one’s with decorative plants. Then we’ve got internships, so people can work within the greenhouse space and get credited for their time here. And we’ve got apprenticeships at the City Farm School which is the most in-depth training, like learning how to become a farmer in essence, and that’s a paid apprenticeship. So we provide those types of learning opportunities. Additionally, there’s our educational workshops series that we have each week. So we’ve got casual ways to come in and interact, we try to keep the prices affordable for users.”
Though a lot of these programs are geared towards Concordia students, not all of them are. Best check the website and if in doubt, you can always email them! And definitely check out the workshops and events schedule to see what’s shaking. “I love hosting events,” said Swirlz. “We have a really dynamic events schedule.”
They also have a community outreach program where they travel to different boroughs by caravan and offer their most popular workshops while the Greenhouse is closed to the public in the summer months!
Contribution to environmental sustainability
The practices that the Greenhouse employs to grow their magnificent plants and produce are all natural. Though they don’t have organic certification, they purchase organic seeds and use ecological pest control in the forms of natural sprays, hand-picking of pests, and the release of beneficial insects.
Their fresh and ecological produce from the Greenhouse and the City Farm School can be purchased at Concordia’s weekly farmer’s market, the City Farm School’s summer weekly market stand, at Le Frigo Vert, and in your meals at the Hive. It’s a great way to be sure that your food purchases are local and sustainable!
“We’re helping to increase the amount of local ecological produce on campus,” Swirlz explained. “But it’s open to anyone, so the community is able to take advantage of that as well.”
And through their many volunteer and workshop opportunities, they are promoting sustainable food practices throughout Montreal.
“Our team is very passionate about sustainability,” she emphasized. “All our educational programs are encouraging people to be mindful of conventional systems and to think about the impact of the different products that we’re using whether it be the soil, the seeds, the fertilizers, or the pesticides, so we show examples about what are the options to use when you’re going for ecological methods.”
Tips for starting your own balcony garden
If in Montreal, check out the events schedule to see if there’s a balcony gardening workshop coming up in the near future! If not in Montreal, check out the Greenhouse’s resources for starting your own balcony garden at home.
Swirlz emphasized the need for researching the water and sunlight needs of individual plants. I asked her which plants could be counted on to be sturdy when faced with caretakers like myself for whom gardening doesn’t come naturally.
“My top plants recommendations are chives and kale. They’re both very easy and they’re nutritious. Kale will start early and if you leave it and it’s insulated, it’ll come back in the spring.”
Key factors in the Greenhouse’s success and plans for the future
Swirlz attributes the Greenhouse’s success to many different factors, the first and foremost being the wonderful space they have to work with. It’s not without its challenges, as it is a fixed amount of space with no real room for physical growth and few extra finances to take on new initiatives.
“So I think the challenge is, as opposed to seeing a need and being able to immediately give somebody more hours and increase the program, just finding a balance between our projects. Because they’re very popular and people always want more of everything that we’re doing but it’s hard because we like the balance of different things that we’re doing. So people would like more lounge space but that would result in less food and plants production. So yeah, just trying to work with a small greenhouse that has a lot of projects and finding balance with that.”
Swirlz also credited their effort to invest plenty of energy into social media updates for keeping people informed and interested in the Greenhouse’s activities. “I think people get so excited seeing about all the different things and seeing us as this dynamic inspirational place to go, and then they can come here either to volunteer or to go to an event, they can also lounge or pick up some of our produce or whatever. So it’s a multifaceted place to come to, so that dynamic has worked really well.”
Finally, no organization could be truly successful without a dedicated group of members. “Our team is just very passionate about being here, and teaching others, and providing great programming in general.”
What does the future hold for this urban oasis? Renovations, said Swirlz. She also hopes that they will continue to increase their network and reach ever more interested people, with the possibility of teaming up with a still-in-the-works summer-long farmer’s market near Loyola. Montreal is ripe for urban farming, she added.
“There’s so many different organizations, there’s so many different places to get involved with in a lot of different neighborhoods, so it’s a very exciting time to be in. And it’s suitable because we’re transitioning to peak oil time, so people need to start thinking about their food systems more and try to start supplementing their diets or their communities’ diets more, both for savings and for the environmental impact of it. People get to thinking ‘I want to grow all my food for the whole year!’ and maybe that’s not really possible but I think supplementation is the better angle, just adding it in, and that will evolve, and grow, and expand.”
Get involved through volunteer, get informed through a workshop, or simply get your greens from this student-run gem of an organization!
The People’s Potato
The People’s Potato is a collectively run soup kitchen offering free or by-donation vegan meals to community members.
Location and services
The People’s Potato is located at 1455 boulevard de Maisonneuve (Hall building) on the 7th floor, and serves lunch from 12:30- 2:00 pm Monday-Friday. Bring your containers! Each vegan meal includes a soup, a salad, a grain dish, and a main dish. Ingredients are posted on a board by the serving counter for allergy consultation. The line can get long (Fridays are shortest!), but some things are worth waiting for! The food is tasty and nourishing.
The People’s Potato is supported by student fee levies, and donations are accepted but not expected.
Contribution to social sustainability
The People’s Potato is run collectively by a group of members, and operates in the absence of a hierarchical management structure. According to Karen Ounsworth, who’s been a collective member for two years, “We’re all equal-status workers, there’s no mangers, actually we’re all managers and we’re all bosses in a way, but we don’t have any special status over other collective members.”
They offer a stagière (internship) program wherein students from different schools come by to assist in the preparation, cooking, serving, and/or clean-up stages of food preparation. “It’s great,” said Ounsworth. “You have people who come in from all walks of life and they get to use this place a spring board to other job opportunities hopefully. Or even just meeting people. It opens up their world a bit.”
They also emphasize the importance of having a 100% open-door policy for both volunteers and for patrons. There is currently no organized process for signing up to volunteer at the People’s Potato.
“I think the thing about that is we’re trying to encourage taking initiative and being part of something. So if the people who had started the People’s Potato had the mindset that they were just gonna do it and not wait for someone to give it to them, then that’s sort of them invitation to people as well, just come on in, volunteer, and be a part of something.”
She added that its not without its challenges, given that kitchen operation can be challenging and the volunteers are not formally trained to participate, nor are the collective members trained in volunteer management. “So although our open-door policy is kind of who we are, it’s tricky at times for sure and it’s not a perfect thing. We try to do what we can with it.” She hopes that in future, they might offer workshops for volunteers but that it’s difficult to do so without a volunteer list.
On the user end, the People’s Potato will serve anybody who comes along, regardless of student status, economic status, or whether they offer a donation. You basically just join the line and file along, collect your portions while saying a quick hello to the servers, and are on your merry way.
“A lot of services in Montreal are going the way of being more rigid or asking for ID because now a lot of the people who are donating are looking for exact information about who they’re giving their donations do. So it’s another reason we’re really lucky to have it be funded more by students and not by government or by private businesses because we have more freedom to not have to ask these questions of people. And just the sheer volume of people we’re serving there’s no way we’re gonna stand there and look for ID right?” she joked.
They also offer a Solidarity Request Program (they will prepare free meals or lend out their kitchen space for events that fall within their mandate of social and environmental justice) and a Food assistance service (food parcels are offered twice per month with no registration required, originating from Moisson Montreal, the city’s largest food bank provider).
Finally, the offer series of educational workshops. In the past, they’ve offered such series as “How to Cook Cheap for Students” and “How to Brew Kombucha.” Ounsworth says that they’re planning a series of anti-oppression workshops this year.
Contribution to environmental justice
The food served at the People’s Potato is 100% vegan, and that alone packs a powerful environmental wallop. And though the food can’t be made up largely of organic ingredients because the cost would infringe on their mandate to serve food to as many people as possible, they are far from environmentally unconscious, said Ounsworth.
“We encourage people to bring their own containers. We try to keep the waste down to a minimum. We have the compost so that it all gets used. We also have our garden that gets used in the summer so then we bring back the food that we get through there […] But we also get food from Moisson Montreal and they essentially collect all the donations from all the supermarkets and factories that would otherwise be ditching their food. So we’re saving that as well, like we’re giving that food another chance to feed people. […] And if we have any leftover food here it’s not going in the garbage, we’ll either walk the floor and ask who wants extra food, or we’ll incorporate it into the next day’s meal and make sure that meal goes out 100%.”
They also try to buy their ingredients from local sources wherever possible, including from an organic tofu factory in Montreal.
Key factors in the People’s Potato’s success and plans for the future
When it comes to the People’s Potato’s success, Ounsworth says it all comes down to the people involved. She names the collective, volunteers, interns, and university administration as absolutely essential to the People’s Potato’s operations.
In future, the People’s Potato will be moving their operations to a new kitchen (still on the 7th floor), and Ounsworth says they’re looking forward to it. Currently, the university estimates that it will be ready next fall.
As for other new directions, Ounsworth said that they’d like to increase the level of outreach that they perform in order to encourage marginalized and financially vulnerable communities to make use of the service.
“People don’t really know our name outside the university that much […] Maybe this year we’ll focus on housing rights, but then also we’re really concerned with reaching out to groups that specifically offer services to communities of color, trans communities… so that’s a really big thing for us right now. We’re just trying to get out of the Concordia bubble.”
The fact that the People’s Potato has been operating successfully for so long is great, said Ounsworth, but she’s ready to shake things up a little bit.
“There was kind of at a period of time I think where people were very active at Concordia […] Since then, I feel like People’s Potato has almost become an institution within an institution because it’s so long-standing and kind of organized, like we have our system… I’d like to see more spontaneity, like the fact that we can shift one way or another depending on who’s in the collective is pretty cool.”
One thing will always remain the same: if you are in need of affordable, nourishing, socially and environmentally responsible comfort food, then there’s a place for you in line at the People’s Potato!
Le Frigo Vert
Anti-capitalist health food store le Frigo Vert offers organic food in bulk as well as pre-packaged goods, fresh snack options, alternative health products, and cleaning supplies, as well as a space for relaxation and education.
Location and services
Le Frigo Vert is located at 1440, rue Mackay, and they are open Monday-Thursday. They consider themselves a public space and therefore do not require a purchase in order to stop by and make use of their lounge and kitchen facilities!
They offer 50-cent organic fair trade coffee, a welcoming space for study, and accessible information about local activism, art events, natural food products and autonomous food systems. They also offer a selection of all products typically found in a health store- organic foods, supplements, cleaning products, and natural cosmetics among them. Their fresh produce includes greens from the Concordia Greenhouse.
Concordia students are automatically members, but anybody can sign up for a membership for $20 and renew it annual for $15. The membership entitles you to a 20% reduction in cost compared to non-members and is well worth the investment if you work, study, or live in the area!
Additionally, they offer one free workshop per month on topics related to natural herbal medicine.
Contribution to social sustainability
As an anti-capitalist non-profit organization, le Frigo Vert is administered by a democratically elected Board of Directors and is run by a worker’s collective using a consensus model. As with the other organizations outlined in this article, workers are active and equal participants in the organization’s management and each play a part in its management and direction.
Mostly, they contribute to social sustainability through the ways that they give back to the community, said one Frigo Vert collective member. Part of their operating budget includes making donations (food or monetary) to other social justice organizations or projects.
Once a year, they collaborate with QPIRG Concordia (Quebec Public Interest Research Group), the People’s Potato, and the Native Friendship Centre in putting on Fall Feast, an anti-colonial evening of food and education that resists colonial land fraud and asserts Indigenous sovereignty and self-determination.
“Otherwise we just keep trying to find ways to offer low cost health food to our membership, while trying to do more outreach to people who can benefit from our services.”
Contribution to environmental sustainability
As it is in le Frigo Vert’s mandate to provide healthy and affordably food to as many people as possible, environmental sustainability needs to be their second priority, according to a member of the collective.
“A challenge we definitely face here is how to balance our commitment to being anti-poverty while being pro-environment as well because so many organic and/or local food items can be so costly. We do the best we can though!”
Indeed, they do a lot more than some for-profit health stores do!
“All of our baked goods are made by local producers, as well as our bottled drinks. Our coffee comes from roasters in Kanesatake, and some of our organic bulk items come from farmers in Quebec and Ontario. We also do smaller things like take people’s old egg cartons, which are then reused by the farmer who provides us with our eggs.”
They also sell fresh greens from Concordia’s Greenhouse, ensuring a steady source of highly local fresh food.
Key factors in le Frigo Vert’s success and plans for the future
Given that le Frigo Vert has been up and running for well over twenty years, it can come as no surprise that they consider their membership extremely important and value the needs of the customers.
“The student members of the le Frigo Vert are essential to our existence!” said a collective member. “So providing them with what they need is important.”
As for future directions, the organization is excited to have hired an expert in herbal medicine who offers free consultations in-store as well as in each of their monthly herbal medicine workshops. “Both have been very popular and successful,” said one member.
Definitely check this store out if you’re ever in the area! Even their non-membership prices are excellent for the bulk items and their product selection is growing all the time, while their lounge space is cozy and open to all.
Students’ Footsteps Carve a Path to Food Sovereignty
These are only some of the initiatives making up the food movement at Concordia University. Take a look at the Concordia Student-Run Food Groups Research Project to learn more about other projects as well as in-depth articles and videos featuring the incredible initiatives already outlined here.
Though each of these groups are in essence very different, they all share in common a profound and unwavering desire to supply Concordia students and Montreal’s community with food that is good for them, good for the environment, and affordable. This, at its root, is the most basic and sustainable concept that could ever exist: that we could be well-nourished and healthy without impoverishing our environment or our ourselves.
This movement isn’t going away. Aramark’s contract is set to expire in two years, and students in residence are still not getting the nutrition they need at a cost that makes sense. Though Concordia’s recent initiatives to introduce sustainability into the food discussion within Concordia’s administration holds promise, large service providers like Aramark can never be reconciled with a truly sustainable food system, as they seek profit at the expense of worker’s rights, quality ingredients, plant-based options, and student needs.
This year’s Concordia food conference, which was organized by the Concordia Farmer’s Market and the Concordia Food Coalition, took place at the beginning of February, and was entitled “Transitions 2018: Collaborate and Create Sustainable Food Systems.”
There is clearly no lack of student initiative at Concordia University to create a sustainable food oasis right in the heart of Montreal. The model works and is exemplified in each of these unique establishments. Let’s show our support by volunteering, making use of their services, and, of course, by eating their good– for the planet, society, and ourselves– food.
Costs for students are kept low while high quality is ensured through these non-profit organizational models. Do you think that for-profit food providers have a place within an educational institution? Why or why not?
What are some of the ways that you can support your local food providers who let a healthy planet guide their organization(s)?