Quality and Productivity Database

Descriptive Title of Proposal: McGill Feeding McGill
Year Submitted 2016
Awarded Honourable Mention (Open Category)
Person(s) Responsible for the Idea
Name Title
Monique Lauzon P.Dt Marketing and Nutrition Counselor
Name of Institution McGill University
Office Address 475 Sherbrooke Street West #306
Montreal, Quebec H3A 2L9
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Telephone: 514-398-5850
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Name (Senior Administrative Office of the Institution) Mathieu Laperle
Title (Senior Administrative Office of the Institution) Director Student Housing and Hospitality Services
Office Address 475 Sherbrooke Street West
Montreal, Quebec H3A 2L9
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Telephone: 514-398-2641
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Abstract

McGill Feeding McGill is a shining example of what is possible when multiple departments join forces to create something truly outstanding. Individuals from diverse backgrounds with different ideas and skills got together and formed significant partnerships, which resulted in big changes for McGill’s Student Housing and Hospitality Service (SHHS) and the community as a whole. The project began in the fall of 2010 with the realization that the University’s Macdonald Campus Farm had major potential, greater than simply teaching and research purposes. By 2013, the University’s Horticultural Research Station has become the main supplier of quality seasonal produce. The farm has supplied more than 120,000 kg of produce and over 180,000 eggs for SHHS which in turn has created over 12,000 hours of student employment, giving students experience in commercial scale agricultural production. Buying local has always been of primary importance for SHHS; and by doing so, the unit has been able to maintain its position as one of the pioneers of sustainability on campus. We’re proud to encourage students to learn about where their food comes from and to connect the McGill community with the food they eat. Over 7500 students have been reached through Local Food Days and Meatless Mondays, and culinary workshops teach students how to prepare healthy meals. We are also encouraging long term relationships between the food producers, chefs, and farmers. With everything we do on campus, it’s a priority to give back to the community; this is why after every large scale culinary event, leftovers are sent to local food banks. The success of this project has also launched the installation of rain water collection vessels that reduce the amount of water used in our operations and a large scale leaf composting program to reduce the need for fertilizer on farm fields. Together, we have created a food system that we’re proud to call our own.

Criteria Please submit one paragraph describing how the proposal fulfills each of the evaluation criteria.
Transferability

McGill Feeding McGill is a great example of how a public institution can support large scale food production. For McGill, this was done by utilizing its own land, products, and innovations to feed the student body and staff. This project is transferable because any organization or institution can choose to source from within rather than from outside. The concept focuses on keeping production local; whether that means partnering with your own farm the way McGill has done with Macdonald Farm or by collaborating with local farmers and companies. Other campuses can emulate McGill’s work on a smaller scale; many Ontario Universities are already growing foods on campus. In order to facilitate the transferability, look for opportunities within your own institution or seek out local organizations to source more sustainable products.

Quality Impact

Some of the qualitative outcomes assessed over a 3 year period are as follows:

  • Opportunities created for hands-on learning in real-life situations; students get the chance to work on a farm and learn the intricate details of large scale food production, sales, and marketing.
  • Optimized land and resources; utilizing the farm to sustainably grow large amounts of fruits, vegetables, and eggs. 
  • A reduction of the university’s carbon footprint as the farm is only 30 km away from campus.
  • The creation of a more sustainable agriculture system; improved quality of produce and customer satisfaction validated by survey results.
  • The promotion of healthier food choices and lifestyles.
  • Valued employee contribution in the change process.
  • A contribution to building the local economy; becoming better corporate citizens.
  • Turning roadblocks into hurdles.
Productivity Impact

The productivity gains over a 5 year period include:

• 120,000 kg of fresh produce grown on the Mac Farm for students in McGill residences; two food suppliers, including Mac Farm and certified Local Foods Plus.

The productivity gains over a 3 year period include:

• 180,000 fresh local eggs.

• 20,000 litres of rainwater captured at Mac Farm and used for field and greenhouse irrigation.

• 28,000 kg of compostable waste diverted from landfill; leaf composting on Mac Farm fields replaces most fertilizers.

• 20 academic courses use SHHS and Mac Farm for training and practicums; 20 culinary workshops on basic cooking skills, healthy meal choices and preparation; More than 7500 students reached through Local Food Days.

• Over 30 sustainability-related student research projects from diverse faculties.

• In SPF projects, over 482 volunteers and more than 100 sustainability-related student jobs were created which translates to over 12,000 hours of labour at Mac Farm.

 

SHHS used to source its cage-free eggs from Burnbrae Farms for $52.00 a case. Mac Farm was one of their suppliers and charged $22.00 case for eggs that were not sorted, graded or candled. Mac Farm needed to invest in upgrading their equipment in order to sell the eggs directly to SHHS and student employees needed to be hired to do the work. Even though Mac Farm charges SHHS $50.00 for their fresh local eggs, this money is kept on campus and is used to subsidize student employment at Mac Farm.

Innovation

What started off as a pilot project between SHHS and the Macdonald Farm has grown into SHHS’ signature program. McGill is the first Canadian campus to grow food for their own foodservices.  Thanks to the Sustainability Fund’s (SPF) financial support, the Farm is SHHS’ largest supplier of fresh fruits and vegetables in season as well as fresh local eggs. While smaller-scale food productions in the Broader Public Service have been implemented such as demonstration boxes and raised beds, there are fewer examples of institutions growing food on a large scale. 1 Additionally, it is rare that the food grown by the institution is purchased by the foodservice department who then incorporate this food into its meals. This is what makes McGill Feeding McGill truly one of its kind and revolutionary in terms of food production.