School Food Matters
Kim Raine, PhD, RD, FCAHS (Keynote Speaker)
Professor, University of Alberta
About Dr. Raine
Dr. Kim Raine is a Distinguished Professor in the School of Public Health, University of Alberta. She is a Registered Dietitian, and a Fellow of the Canadian Academy of Health Sciences.
A pioneer in bringing social scientific concepts to the study of nutrition and health, her innovative research has shown dietary patterns as deeply contextualized behaviours embedded in complex food environments. Her research program broke new ground by exploring food environments, and how they shape the availability, affordability, and social acceptability of dietary patterns, as well as their association with health‐related outcomes. Her research pioneered social‐ecological thinking in nutrition and demonstrated the potential of large‐scale population interventions at community and policy levels. She has influenced research strategies and policy development at local, provincial, and federal levels. Dr. Raine’s team is at the leading edge of the exponential growth of research in food environments in Canada.
Dr. Mary McKenna, PhD (Keynote Speaker)
Professor, University of New Brunswick
About Dr. McKenna
Mary McKenna, PhD, is a Professor in the Faculty of Kinesiology at the University of New Brunswick (UNB) in Fredericton. She joined the Faculty in 2006 and teaches nutrition, wellness, and health promotion. Dr. McKenna’s research focuses primarily on school nutrition policy. She has experience in policy development, implementation, and evaluation and has consulted for the World Health Organization on the topic.
Dr. McKenna has given over 100 presentations at the international, national, and local level. From 2003-2006, Dr. McKenna worked as a Health Scientist at the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) in Atlanta, GA. From 1986-2003, she taught in the Faculty of Education at UNB. Dr. McKenna is a member of the scientific advisory board of the Centre for Science in the Public Interest (Canada), on the board of the NB Heart and Stroke Foundation, and a member of the NB Minister’s Roundtable on Agriculture.
Debbie Field M.Ed, Hon. LLD
Coordinator, Coalition for Healthy School Food
About Debbie Field
Debbie has been involved in promoting and improving school food programs for decades, starting when she was a child growing up in New York City where she participated in a free lunch program and loved the mash potatoes and meatloaf but hated the stigma of eating in the “free lunch” cafeteria. When her children entered grade school she was instrumental as a parent activist in organizing a healthy hot lunch program at her children’s school and then advocating to the City of Toronto to fund student nutrition programs. Over her years as the Executive Director of FoodShare Toronto she and her colleagues were involved in developing innovative and sustainable student nutrition and school food literacy programs and the creation of the Coalition for Healthy School Food.
A social activist and globally recognized leader in the creation of a more socially just and environmentally sustainable food systems, Debbie is currently also a Distinguished Visiting Practitioner with the Centre for Studies in Food Security at Ryerson University. Debbie’s passion for collective action and policy change is informed by her experiences as a community college instructor, union organizer and leadership in a variety of social movements.
Executive Director, Edmonton's Food Bank
About Marjorie Bencz
Marjorie Bencz began with Edmonton’s Food Bank in 1987 as a volunteer. In 1989, she became the Executive Director of Edmonton’s Food Bank.
Over the years, Marjorie’s work and dedication has resulted in her being recognized with a number of community awards such as an honorary diploma in Health and Community Studies from Grand MacEwan Community College and being named Global TV’s Woman of Vision. In May, 2012 in the category of Community Service, Marjorie was honored with a YWCA Woman of Distinction Award. Also in 2012, she received the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee Medal. In June 2015, Marjorie was inducted into the City of Edmonton Hall of Fame.
Marjorie was honoured nationally for her ongoing service to Canadians and invested into the Order of Canada in the category of Social Science in 2006. Marjorie continues to believe that this recognition is not for her role, but for the collective support she receives from Edmontonians, Albertans, and fellow Canadians in reducing hunger in our communities.
District Administrator, Ermineskin Schools
About Scott Hall
Scott Hall, a former teacher, now district administrator, with Maskwacis Education Schools Commission (MESC) in Maskwacis, Alberta, has helped to turn the vision for a Universal School Food Strategy into a reality. He currently directs MESC’s student-run breakfast and lunch program, Nanatohk Miciwin, serving 2200 students and 400 staff, which sources local food, incorporates nutrition education and involves students in cooking and preparing school meals.
Teacher, Paul William Kaeser High School
About Erin MacDonald
Erin MacDonald has been a teacher at Paul William Kaeser (PWK) High School in her hometown of, Fort Smith, NWT, for the last 17 years. When Erin became the Foods Science teacher 5 years ago, her goal was to help students out by increasing the availability of healthy food options during the day with a focus on providing a small morning snack, making a hot lunch option available, and to always have a freezer full of snacks for on-the-go students. PWK students are involved in the process by volunteering their time after school to cook or bake for others. Erin looks forward to discussing her program with others on the ‘Pan-Canadian School Food Programs’ panel and hearing fresh ideas from other program leaders to learn more about problem-solving obstacles stemming from COVID.
National Director, Farm to Cafeteria Canada
About Jesse Veenstra
Jesse is a public health professional with a passion for food security and community building. Prior to joining Farm to Cafeteria Canada in 2018, she spent a decade managing complex projects across the continuum of care at Vancouver Coastal Health and at BC’s Provincial Health Services Authority. Since 2017 Jesse has served on the Vancouver Food Policy Council and is a member of the council’s Leadership Team and Zero Waste Working Group. She holds a Bachelor of Science in Nutrition and Nutraceutical Science and Master of Science in Human Health and Nutrition. In her spare time, you will find Jesse exploring the BC wilderness, experimenting in her garden, or getting creative in her kitchen with the local bounty BC has to offer.
Clinical Dietitian, Renfrew Educational Services
About Lindsay MacCharles
Aba Wathtech! My name is Lindsay MacCharles. I am of white settler decent, and a visitor to the beautiful Treaty 7 territory where I am lucky enough to work, live and play in Calgary and surrounding area. I am originally from Treaty 1 territory and was raised in Winnipeg, Manitoba. I am a Registered Dietitian working for Renfrew Educational Services. I have had the privilege of working full time on the Stoney Nakoda First Nation, with a contract through Stoney Health Services since July 2018. As a pediatric dietitian I work closely with children and family in the communities as well as with the Nakoda Elementary Schol and Morley Community School, the schools on nation.
Health Promotion Facilitator, Alberta Health Services
About Christin Vokins
Christine Volkins is a Health Promotion Facilitator (HPF) with the School Health & Wellness Promotion team, Alberta Health Services. She encourages school authorities to utilize Comprehensive School Health (CSH), an internationally recognized and effective approach for building healthy school communities. CSH can be used to address a variety of health issues and can improve both health and education outcomes for students, staff and parents. Christine has been in this role for 14 years; prior to that she worked in the school system as a Family School Liaison/Counsellor. She resides in the rural area of Trochu with her husband and has two sons attending university. Gardening, golfing, and summers at the lake with family and friends help to make her life complete.
Sarah Halton, RD
Registered Dietitian, Alberta Health Services
About Sarah Halton
Sarah Halton is part of the Edmonton public health dietitian team with Alberta Health Services. Sarah has worked in the area of school health for the past 13 years and is involved in resource development and initiatives that support healthy eating environments and education in schools.
Nancy Kelner, BSc, B.Ed
Education Initiatives Manager, Agriculture for Life
About Nancy Kelner
Nancy grew up in Winnipeg, MB, spending summers on her grandparents’ farm where her curiosity for environmental and animal science was first sparked. Following these passions and her love for life-long learning, Nancy completed her B.Sc. (Bio Sci) and B.Ed. at the University of Winnipeg, and has over 10 years teaching experience as science education specialist serving rural Manitoba students. She moved on from the classroom to work with a national non-profit, developing and delivering innovative student programs, as well as PD and training sessions for teachers, classrooms, and school boards across Manitoba.
Nancy relocated to Okotoks last year and joined the Agriculture for Life education team, developing new education initiatives to connect students to our agricultural food production systems.
Sarah Linde, BSc
Programs Director, Agriculture for Life
About Sarah Linde
Sarah grew up in Calgary, AB, spending all her free time on local farms and riding horses. Sarah completed her BSc in Agribusiness in 2007 and followed her passion in the agriculture world. Sarah spent 7 years supporting and managing agriculture events and youth agriculture education programs in Calgary working to continue to connect the urban audience with where their food comes from and our rural roots in Alberta. Sarah joined the Agriculture for Life team in 2015 and has worked on the development and execution of several new Ag Education and Farm safety programs throughout Alberta including the Rural Safety Unit which has reached over 125,000 participants in the past two years.
Dr. Rachel Engler-Stringer, PhD
Professor, University of Saskatchewan
About Dr. Engler-Stringer
Dr. Rachel Engler-Stringer is an Associate Professor in the Department of Community Health and Epidemiology in the College of Medicine at the University of Saskatchewan and a researcher with the Saskatchewan Population Health and Evaluation Research Unit. She is currently the chair of the Saskatoon Food Council. She is currently the principal investigator on a curriculum-integrated universal school lunch program intervention study. She has a doctorate in Nutrition and her research interests include community food security, food environments and food access, food system sustainability, health promotion, and community-based and participatory research.
Daniel Neuman, RD
About Daniel Neuman
Daniel Neuman is a Registered Dietitian providing evidence-based nutrition consulting and cooking classes in Edmonton, Alberta. Daniel Newman worked to support the implementation of Alberta’s Student Nutrition Program.
Today, Daniel works to simplify nutrition for clients by providing practical evidence-based consulting and skill development, such as private cooking classes and everyday tips to make the healthy choice the easy choice. Daniel wants to empower, educate, and support clients towards their nutrition related goals. These clients are individuals, parents, athletes, people with nutrition related chronic disease, corporate health and wellness, and anyone who wants to enhance their understanding of nutrition and food.
Program Coordinator, Inside Education
About Julie Fisher
Julie is an Education Program Coordinator with Inside Education, an environmental education charity that supports teachers and inspires students with experiential learning opportunities in natural resource and environmental education. Inside Education’s agriculture programs have brought agriculture to the classroom, taken teachers to the fields, and supported school agriculture learning projects with an Agriculture Youth Leadership Summit held in March 2020. Julie has a Bachelor of Science in Agriculture from the University of Alberta and participated in the Young Agrarian’s farm apprenticeship program, where her appreciation for nutritious food, hard work and Alberta farmers grew immensely. She is currently involved in a community greenhouse project in Cochrane, where she lives, and is very excited to share and learn more about other school food initiatives across the country!
Former Member of Legislative Assembly
About Annie McKittrick
Annie has spent forty years working with municipalities, provincial government, institutions and non-for-profit organizations. ln her work, she has fought for increased affordable housing, food security, programs for the homeless and childcare spaces, ESL Programs, anti-racism initiatives, funding for detox facilities, and responsible urban development.
For five years she managed a national research institute at the University of Victoria exploring the contribution of the not-for-profit sector, co-operatives, and credit unions to local community economic development and social well-being. Food security was an important part of the research of the national institute and its regional hubs.
She has a Master’s degree in Education and Diploma in Public Sector Management from the University of Victoria and a Bachelor Degree in Ecology from McGill University.
She was the MLA for Sherwood Park from 2015-2019 and was appointed the Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Education with a focus on the school nutrition program and community hubs model for schools
Community Development Officer, Government of Alberta
About Shari Hanson
Shari has worked as a Community Development Officer with the Provincial Government for more than 20 years. Through her work, she provides workshops and services in support of community and nonprofit organizations. As a facilitator Shari especially enjoys “conducting” in ways that seek harmony from diverse voices, (as opposed to monotony heard from same voices)!
Shari’s educational pursuits were greatly influenced by her participation with Canada World Youth (having traveled on a youth exchange to India), her rural background, and especially her involvement with “learn to do by doing” (she was a 4-H member for 8 years). Shari has a Bachelor of Arts degree in Social Anthropology from Dalhousie University and a Master of Science degree in Rural Extension Studies from the University of Guelph. Through this multi-disciplinary department, her focus for her Masters was in Community Development and Adult Education.
Shari grew up on a farm Northwest of Calgary and now calls Red Deer home.
Project Coordinator, Fort Macleod Community Aquaponics Greenhouse Society
About Mike Lavorato
Mike Lavorato is the Project Coordinator of Fort Macleod Community Aquaponics Greenhouse Society’s “Youth Changing the Course” project.
The Youth Changing the Course (YCC) project began mid-way through the 2018/19 school year across the Livingstone Range School Division (LRSD) (southwest AB). YYC’s purpose was to build and maintain aquaponics systems that would demonstrate innovation, water conservation and food production.
Mike has helped each school to build their system while educating the staff and students how to maintain the fish and grow healthy food faster while using less water. Mike has provided guidance and supervision for 11 different systems while sharing his knowledge to enable each school to harvest the produce they have grown.
Program Manager, Hope Mission
About Jared Jorstad
Jared Jorstad is the Program Manager of Bethany Homes-Hope Mission, located in Wetaskiwin Alberta. He oversees the “Food for Thought” program that serves Two Thousand lunches and breakfasts to local schools in Camrose, Wetaskiwin, Pigeon Lake and Millet
Food Services Manager, Kee Tas Kee Now Tribal Council Education Authority
About Clifford Gladue
Clifford Gladue is a member of the Whitefish Lake First Naton 459. He is the Food Services Manager for the Kee Tas Kee Now Tribal Council Education Authority (KTCEA).
KTCEA oversees 6 schools within Whitefish Lake First Nation 459, Woodland Cree First Nation, Lubicon Lake Band, Loon River First Nation and Peerless Trout First Nation. He helped the 6 schools to eliminate processed foods, He has helped turn a vision to offer traditional meals in school into a reality, they have worked with Elders in the communities and the Environmental Public Health Officers.
Coordinator, Collectif québécois
About Danie Martin
Danie is the coordinator of the Collectif québécois, a provincial chapter of the Coalition for Healthy School Food and a project officer for the communications team at Food Secure Canada.
She completed a major in Communications at Université du Québec à Montréal (UQAM) followed by a certificate in Community Action at Université de Montréal. Since college, where she was the Greenhouse activity leader, Danie has always been a firm believer that food is the center of human interactions. Her work as a community development officer in New-Brunswick ignited her interest in community-based work and citizen initiatives. While at university, she was involved in grassroots student-led projects around local food and social ecology with the Public Interest Research Group, which led her to work as co-coordinator of UQAM’s Farmers Market.
Fairly new to the food movement across Canada, she has an endless appetite to discover more initiatives and projects. Cyclist amateur, Danie is an outdoor lover.
Member of Legislative Assembly
About Lorne Dach
Lorne Dach was elected to the Legislative Assembly of Alberta in the constituency of Edmonton-McClung on May 5, 2015, and was re-elected on April 16, 2019.
He currently serves as a member of the Standing Committee on Public Accounts and the Standing Committee on Resource Stewardship. He was previously a member of the Standing Committee on Alberta’s Economic Future.
During his first term he served as deputy chair of the Standing Committee on Public Accounts, deputy chair of the Standing Committee on Legislative Offices and as a member of the Standing Committee on Alberta’s Economic Future.
Prior to serving with the Legislative Assembly, he worked for close to 30 years in the real estate industry as an Associate Broker.
Community-minded, he has also dedicated his time to volunteer efforts, which include serving on the board of directors of homeEd, the City of Edmonton Non-Profit Housing Corporation for six years and volunteering as a probation officer with Alberta Solicitor General’s court intake unit for two years.
Mr. Dach was born, raised and educated in Edmonton. He holds a bachelor of arts in political science from the University of Alberta and has called Edmonton-McClung home for more than 25 years.
CEO, Community Foundation of Northwestern Alberta
About Laura LaValley
Laura LaValley is the CEO of the Community Foundation of Northwestern Alberta. Laura has extensive experience in non-profit and charity management for the past 15 years, including 5 years managing the local public school division’s Education Foundation.
Laura sits on the City of Grande Prairie’s Food Security Committee and works closely with the Salvation Army and Grande Prairie Friendship Centre, along with other regional partners to address food security needs in northwestern Alberta.
Laura has lived on a bison ranch near Brezanson for the past 21 years with her husband and three teenage sons. The LaValley’s enjoy camping, curling, and skiing.
Manager of Community & School Based Programs, E4C
About Kelly Bickford
Kelly Bickford has worked for over 20 years in the human service, government, private and nonprofit sectors both in Canada and overseas; providing change management, program evaluation, project management, and organizational development expertise. Her varied experience has allowed her to work in a diversity of areas from public engagement to domestic violence, to wildfire prevention. She holds a double major in political Science and Sociology and an MBA specializing in public policy and management. Kelly is currently the Manager of Community & School Based Programs with e4c where she oversees school based nutrition programs as part of their work to increase food security in Edmonton
Senior Programs Advisor, Public Health Agency of BC
About Samantha Gambling
Samantha is a senior programs advisor for the Public Health Association of BC, supporting a number of food systems projects such as Farm to School BC which aims to bring healthy food to the minds, hearts and bellies of students across the province. She currently coordinates the BC Chapter of the Coalition for Healthy School Food to advocate for public investment in a universal, cost-shared, healthy school food program that meets the diverse needs of BC students. She is a graduate of the sustainable agriculture practicum at UBC Farm, and an MSc. alumna from the University of British Columbia’s Faculty of Land and Food Systems where she studied agricultural policy and food sovereignty in the BC dairy industry.
Co-Founder and Program Manager, Alpine Edible Schoolyards
About Christian Wright
Christian is a co-founder and the project-manager for a school / market garden program called Alpine Edible Schoolyards located in Canmore, Alberta.
He is just wrapping up his eighth growing season. In response to this year’s pandemic lockdown challenges, the program pivoted from its traditional model in order to grow exclusively for local food security initiatives, delivering 1,500 kilos of delicious garden produce for those in need, from less than one-third of an acre.
Healthy land & soil = healthy people & communities! Christian is passionate about reconnecting people of all ages to the land that sustains us all and demonstrating that small scale diversified agroecology is the most underrated tool we can all use to regenerate the land, enhance local economies and build healthy resilient communities.
Moving forward Christian will continue to develop engaging garden-based programming for students of all ages which also helps teachers achieve their specific curriculum outcomes. He would also love to assist more schools in starting their own garden classroom programs.
Teacher, Matthew Halton High School
About Neil Lamont
Neil has been teaching for 10 years in Southern Alberta. Currently, he teachs Biology, Horticulture and Jr. High Sciences at Matthew Halton High School in Pincher Creek. Before he began teaching, Neil was living in Prince George, BC, working as a Forest Ecologist. He has a B.Sc in Environmental Science and a B.Ed, both from the University of Northern British Columbia. He enjoys hiking and playing disc golf with my wife and 4 year old son.
Debbie Madore, RD
Chair, Nourish Nova Scotia Board of Directors
About Debbie Madore
Debbie Madore is the Chair of the Nourish Board of Directors, and and long time advocate for school food programs. Debbie is the dietitian for the Cape Breton Regional Centre for Education, is part of the provincial network of practitioners with Nourish Nova Scotia and has been on the front lines for all things school food for going on 20 years.
Community Engagement & Street Level Coordinator, Mustard Seed
About Hyeyoung Joo
Hyeyoung Joo is a Community Engagement and Street Level Coordinator at The Mustard Seed. She has always been passionate about working with people in poverty and building relationships and hope in the communities she serves. In the past, she worked in communities where people experience extreme poverty in countries like Ethiopia. After moving to Canada in 2018, her focus has been serving people who are experiencing homelessness and poverty in Edmonton and to share their stories with others. People often picture homelessness as a set of personal problems for each individual to overcome, but she believes that the causes of poverty are complex and something we all have to work together as a community to solve. As a Community Engagement Coordinator, she appreciates all opportunities to bridge communities and make meaningful connections.
Kevin Van Lagen
Principal, Altario School
About Kevin Van Lagen
Community Engagement Coordinator, Mustard Seed
About Kirsten Schmaus
Born and raised in Edmonton, Kirsten has a deep love for the community, culture, people and beauty of the river valley in any season. In her role as Community Engagement Coordinator with The Mustard Seed, Kirsten is honoured to both come alongside those who are experiencing poverty and homelessness and to act as a bridge-builder to the wider community.
Member, Fort Macleod Aquaponics
About Nicholas Housenga
Nicholas Housenga has been a member of Fort Macleod Aquaponics since middle school. When Fort Macleod Aquaponics’ project “Youth Changing the Course” began, Nick created a video and graphic design for the project and gave presentations to his student body about aquaponics.
Later in the project, he worked with the organization to set up fish tank sized aquaponic systems in schools across Livingstone Range School Division and worked with teachers to maintain an aquaponic system in his school. He lives in Fort Macleod and is currently finishing Grade 12.
AA Pediatric Medical Clinic
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