The University of Guelph and Loblaw Companies Limited have partnered to challenge tomorrow’s food leaders and develop solutions for a net-zero food system in Canada, through a new 10-month graduate student experiential learning program at the university.
The Loblaw Net-Zero Food Systems Challenge will bring together graduate students from across Canada to investigate strategic levers that will drive Canadian adoption and demand for net-zero agricultural products along the value chain, from farmers to consumers.
The group will explore two themes:
- How food retailers can work with others in the value chain to create incentives that encourage farmers to adopt regenerative farming practices that absorb greenhouse gases. This includes exploring how these practices may point the way to creating soil carbon measurement, verification and reporting tools that form the basis of carbon markets.
- How food retailers can encourage consumer awareness and purchase behaviors of climate-responsible products, farmed with net-zero practices.
The 10-month program is being run by Arrell Food Institute and the Ontario Agricultural College at the University of Guelph. Loblaw will provide financial support and the opportunity of real-world sector insight.
“We have a strong net-zero commitment to fight climate change by eliminating greenhouse gas emissions, and we know the pivotal role regenerative agriculture could play in our progress,” said Galen Weston, President and Chairman, Loblaw Companies Limited. “As the nation’s largest buyer and seller of food, we want to understand how best to encourage agricultural and consumer practices that reduce or reverse climate impacts. We proudly offer this challenge and our enthusiasm to leading thinkers.”
Students currently enrolled in graduate programs at universities in Canada are encouraged to apply by January 16, 2023. Successful applicants will work in groups over the course of several months to develop research pieces and create policy relevant plans.
“Giving graduate students real-world problems to work on is an incredible opportunity to apply their expansive knowledge and put their skills into action,” said Evan Fraser, Director of the Arrell Food Institute. “At Arrell Food Institute, we embody a culture of learning, and this experience will help cultivate a cohort of learners who are keen to help Canada’s food system reduce its environmental impact.”
Throughout the program, students will receive training and coaching from experts who come from a range of backgrounds such as community groups, industry, and academic partners including the University of Guelph – Canada’s food university.
“A carbon neutral food system requires collaboration at all points, but retailers have a unique ability to influence producers and consumers,” said Dr. Rene Van Acker, dean of the Ontario Agricultural College. “The possibilities presented by Loblaw’s commitment to regenerative agriculture are frankly very exciting and I’m so pleased to see their investment in students as thought-leaders.”
Applications for the Loblaw Net-Zero Food Systems Challenge are now open and graduate students from a variety of disciplines are encouraged to apply. Successful applicants will be welcomed to Guelph in February to meet their cohort, other food system experts, and Loblaw leaders during a kick-off workshop. More information can be found at: www.arrellfoodinstitute.ca/net-zero-challenge
About Arrell Food Institute at the University of Guelph
Arrell Food Institute brings people together to conduct research, train the next generation of food leaders and shape social, industrial and governmental decisions, always ensuring food is the central priority. www.arrellfoodinstitute.ca
About the Ontario Agricultural College, University of Guelph
The Ontario Agricultural College (OAC) of the University of Guelph is internationally renowned for its focus on research and teaching that inspires leaders, generates knowledge, and creates innovative solutions for food, agriculture, communities and the environment.
About Loblaw Companies Limited
Loblaw is Canada’s food and pharmacy leader, and the nation’s largest retailer. The company’s network of more than 2,300 corporate, franchised and Associate-owned locations, employs nearly 200,000 colleagues — making it one of Canada’s largest private employers. Loblaw’s purpose — helping Canadians live life well — puts the needs and well-being of Canadians first, through more than 1 billion annual customer transactions. Loblaw has detailed ambitions for fighting climate change and advancing social equity, which can be found at www.loblaw.ca/en/responsibility.
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