Each year Arrell Scholars and their HQP peers are paired with an organization or business to build new skills through experiential learning. Together, these teams tackle an agri-food problem and develop a solution that draws on the expertise of the participating students.
The pandemic dealt a devastating blow to communities across the country in many ways, and one of these was increased food insecurity. However, many existing organizations came up with new or expanded ways of addressing the problem. To better understand the innovative approaches community organizations used to increase individual and household access to food during Covid-19, Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada asked a team of students to review food insecurity initiatives that emerged across the country and invited some of those organizations to participate in further study.
The Nutritious Food Workstream is a Smart Cities Our Food Future initiative with a goal of increasing access to affordable, nutritious food by 50% by 2025. To learn more about food availability, affordability, and marketing of nutritious foods in food retail settings, students interviewed managers, owners and operators of local grocery and convenient stores to gain perspective about accessibility, marketing and access to promote healthier food and gauge interest for future interventions.
Storytelling can be a powerful tool to create positive change on important issues. A student team working with SAI Platform conducted interviews with sustainability managers, farmers and other actors at every level of the supply chain to compile positive examples to showcase the capacity of farming to be part of the conducted.
Unlocking the potential of neighbourhoods to be a source of local food through digital tools is the focus of Seed Voyage’s work. The student team partnered with an established local community organization and created an outreach plan that included a promotional video, community workshops and a survey to collect feedback on why people might use a digital platform for sharing garden bounties. Their work will help establish a user group in SW Ontario that has enough eaters and growers to promote regular activity on the digital platform.
Disruptive Technology Adoption
Producing animal products without animals has the potential to disrupt existing food systems. To inform the cellular agriculture business models that can transform or complement current animal-based models, two student teams created and distributed surveys to consumers, livestock farmers, meat processors, and retailers to understand their thoughts about cellular agriculture with their industry partners Cellular Agriculture and New Harvest.