The recently formed McGill Food Systems Project (MFSP) presented its mandate Thursday at a meeting that also included a presentation by McGill Food and Dining services of its sustainability projects.
The MFSP aims to unite disparate campus research in order to maximize the ecological, social, and economic sustainability of McGill’s food systems, according to Dana Lahey, one of the group’s organizers.
“We’re trying to engage the McGill community, get research done on campus, and help that research drive change,” Lahey said.
Lahey lamented that much student research never makes it out of the classroom. He hoped that the MFSP can bridge the gap between classes like “social context of business” and campus decision-makers.
“With a structure like this we can help fit all of the little pieces together,” he said. “If we can get research done through classes that are already happening, then we can put that information together and make concrete recommendations for changing things.”
At the meeting, Bill Pageau, director of McGill Food and Dining Services also highlighted his “Martlet social responsibility” program, which includes multiple sustainability projects.
Pageau pointed to successful initiatives, such as the adoption of fair trade coffee in most outlets and the implementation of a wet waste filtration system, as examples of sustainable solutions that succeeded because they were supported by strong economic drivers.
“I think that the ends have to justify the means when we’re looking at the environment,” Pageau said. “When asked, students support the environmental initiatives, but when asked if they’ll support them financially, the support isn’t there.”
Pageau also heralded the success of the McGill Farmer’s market, making note of the abnormally fast pace at which the project cleared regulatory hurdles with the administration.
“It really showed for once how administrators and student groups can really work together to achieve a common goal,” he said.
In closing, Pageau suggested that students get involved in groups such as the MFSP and the McGill University Student Dining Advisory Committee, and take an active role in bringing sustainable change.
“People have to legislate less and participate more,” he said.
Contact the MFSP at firstname.lastname@example.org.