Why does the Community Cabbage exist?
Two key factors. Approximately 2 in 5 students attending Canadian universities experience food insecurity, meaning that they lack physical and/or economic access to sufficient, safe and nutritious food to meet their dietary needs and food preferences for an active and healthy life (Food and Agriculture Organization, 1996). The high cost of prepared food on campus (relative to limited student budgets), compounded by rising tuition and housing costs, is a barrier to food access for many low-income students.
Paradoxically, there is a tremendous food waste problem within our industrial food system, with approximately $31 billion worth of food being discarded in landfills and compost facilities annually (CBC, 2016) – food produced with enormous energetic, ecological, and societal inputs. Much of the food being discarded is edible, but rendered unsellable due to commercial standards and customer preferences. The Community Cabbage endeavours to reclaim edible food from the waste stream for distribution, and works in partnership with organizations such as the Mustard Seed and Living Edge, as well as directly with local businesses such as Red Barn Market.
We are students who love to cook together, and love sharing good food. We come together to share skills and take steps towards a healthier community, starting with our own nourishment. But this is just the start – by coming together in community, we gain momentum in what is truly a creative struggle to reinvent systems in our society which perpetuate inequality, waste, and oppression.
Resources for further reading
Food waste and food systems:
A $31B problem: How Canada sucks at reducing food waste: http://www.cbc.ca/news/business/canada-food-waste-1.3813965
Just Eat It, documentary: http://www.foodwastemovie.com
And if you’re feeling academic…
High Level Panel of Experts (HLPE). 2014. Food Losses and Waste in the Context of
Lang, T. (2010). Crisis? What crisis? The normality of the current food crisis. Journal of Agrarian Change, 10(1), 87-97. doi:10.1111/j.1471-0366.2009.00250.x
Sage, C. (2013). The interconnected challenges for food security from a food regimes perspective: Energy, climate and malconsumption. Journal of Rural Studies, 29(2), 71-80. doi:10.1016/j.jrurstud.2012.02.005
Student food insecurity and community kitchens:
Hungry for knowledge: Assessing the prevalence of student food insecurity on five Canadian campuses, report: http://www.mealexchange.com/hungryforknowledgereport.html
Meal Exchange, working toward sustainable food systems at Canadian universities: http://mealexchange.com/
Tarasuk, V., and Reynolds, R. (1999). A qualitative study of community kitchens as a response to income-related food insecurity. Canadian Journal of Dietetic Practice and Research, 60(1), 11-16.