Food nutrition, waste focus of community conversation

Alison Springate
Alison Springate Guelph Smart City Office • 21 March 2019

Guelph, Ont., March 21, 2019–More than 80 community members and food experts gathered at the Guelph Y on  Tuesday to explore our relationship with food and ways to eat healthier and reduce food waste. The event was part of the City of Guelph and County of Wellington’s Smart Cities Challenge project, Our Food Future.

The evening kicked off with an introduction from Geoff Vogt, CEO of YMCA-YWCA of Guelph and event moderator. “The Y is about contributing to the wellness of individuals, groups, and the communities we serve. Food is a key part of that wellness,” he said, noting that the Y is responsible for feeding 1,500 children each weekday through its child care program.

“We have learned a lot through the Smart Cities project that we can take into our food programs here to reduce our waste and be as sustainable as possible.”

Geoff Vogt, CEO of YMCA-YWCA of Guelph

Four panelists shared their personal and professional philosophies on food, and had different advice for creating healthy food habits at home.

Jeff Crump, Executive at Pearle Hospitality, Director of Bread Bar and cookbook author shared that he is motivated by great taste. The key, he said, is to search for ingredients that are high quality and in season. Delicious food made from those ingredients is worth the effort, is usually healthier and fresher than conveniently pre-packaged items, and is less likely to be thrown away.

Shea Robinson, Executive Chef at Neighbourhood Group advised busy families to make meal planning a priority together when working towards healthy food at home. For his family, preparation is key. “You can make a lot of things that are nutritious if you take a few hours on Sunday to chop up your vegetables in advance,” he said, encouraging whole families to be involved, including young children, so they build a relationship with food.

In her remarks, Pam Fanjoy, Owner and Executive Chef of FanJoy Restaurant & Bar and a former winner of Chopped Canada, also advocated for positive food experiences. “Make dining an experience. We have an emotional connection to food. Remember those experiences and they create fond memories of food, and help us want to eat more nutritiously,” she said.

“Eat well with friends.”

Pam Fanjoy, Owner and Executive Chef of FanJoy Restaurant & Bar

Coming from an academic perspective, Mike von Massow, Associate Professor, Food, Agricultural & Resource Economics, University of Guelph, emphasized the need for increased awareness and engagement in the food waste cycle. He shared that the average household in Guelph throws out approximately 4.5 kilograms of food each week, according to his research – and around 65% of that food waste is from fruits and vegetables.

“Be engaged. The better you are at sorting your garbage, the less you will throw out, because you will be more aware of the waste you are producing. It’s not just about buying healthy – it’s about eating everything you buy instead of putting it into your green bin.”

Mike von Massow, Associate Professor, Food, Agricultural & Resource Economics, University of Guelph

All of the panelists agreed on the importance of building good food habits at home. Some other tips included:

  • Keeping food that needs to be eaten first at eye-level in the fridge
  • Shop for locally-produced foods whenever possible, and join a food co-operative to participate in the growing process
  • Spend more time in the kitchen in general, to become more familiar with ingredients and food preparation

Scott Stewart, Deputy Chief Administrative Officer at the City of Guelph, provided some context about Our Food Future, and Guelph-Wellington’s goal to become Canada’s first circular food community.

“Our vision is of a food system where everyone can access nutritious food, nothing is wasted, and the impact on our environment is minimal. We want to see food experts and entrepreneurs come together to tackle this complex challenge.”

Scott Stewart, Deputy Chief Administrative Officer at the City of Guelph

The initiative is currently in the running for a $10 million grant from Infrastructure Canada to advance the work. Winners will be announced on May 14 in Ottawa.

For 50 tips on how to become a Food Future Star, or to take the pledge to reduce food waste, visit


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Media contact

Tara Sprigg
General Manager, Corporate Communications and Customer Service
519-822-1260 extension 2610