20 Voices from 20 Years

In 2018, Food First NL turned 20.

To celebrate, we’re checking in with 20 voices from our first 20 years in operation, by asking them all about the past, present, and future of Food First NL, and why they got involved.

Check back every week day in November for a new post:

John Greene.jpg

Day 1: John Greene | Founding Member

During his studies at Memorial, John became involved in Oxfam. He connected with the agency’s slogan: “Think Globally, Act Locally.” It was a notion that led him to found a Community Garden in Pippy Park, the Community Food Sharing Association, and then, in 1998, the Food Security Network NL (now Food First NL).”

Katie Temple.jpg

Day 2: Katie Temple | Board Member 2005-2008

“Food is both personal and political,” she says. “It addresses environmental concerns, social justice, inequality, health and so much more. Although the organization was tiny at the time, there were very dedicated people involved, and I could see the potential for a big impact in the future.”

Screenshot (80).png

Day 3: Melba Rabinowitz | Former Treasurer

Melba wrote our first funding application to the Public Health Agency of Canada … on a typewriter. It secured the future of the organization. “When I joined Food First NL, there was $70.00 in the bank account and they were struggling to pay for a post office box,” she says. A far cry from 2018; this year alone, the organization moved into a new office to accommodate growth in staff numbers.


Day 4: Carlene palliser | Past Food Security Coordinator

Carlene Palliser is an Ordinary member for Rigolet. Prior to her political appointment, she was a Food Security Coordinator in Rigolet, and helped lay the groundwork for our ongoing Our Food NL project in Nunatsiavut, specifically the programs in Rigolet such as the Good Food Box program.


Day 5: mary Ennis | Seniors NL

 “SeniorsNL has partnered with Food First NL since the Spring of 2012, and we’ve never looked back,” says Mary Ennis. For Mary, the future of Food First NL involves embracing its role in developing inter-generational opportunities for different age groups to exchange knowledge and learn from each other.


Day 6: Glendora Boland | founding member

Glendora helped establish Food First NL in 1998, specifically to address the cost of food in our province. She believes that FFNL must continue its collaborative work with key stakeholders to improve food policy at the municipal and provincial level.


Day 7: Sandra Dominie | Public Health nurse

Public Health Nurse Sandra Dominie has been a partner with and consultant for Food First NL on numerous projects. In today’s 20 from 20 post she shares the personal reason she first got involved with Food First NL, how she thinks the organization is succeeding, and what it should work towards in its next 20 years.

Scott Coish.jpg

Day 8: Scott Coish | Town of St. Anthony

“There seems to be a renewed interest in Community gardens ... these are great to get kids involved with thinking about food security,” Coish says. New in his role as the Parks and Recreation Director with the Town of St. Anthony, he attended the Recreation NL annual general meeting, where Food First NL was a topic of conversation. From there he connected with Sarah Ferber, and established a community garden in St. Anthony.

Lynn Blackwood.jpg

Day 9: Lynn Blackwood | Regional Nutritionist

“I was born and raised and work in Labrador and the challenges accessing food in Labrador are many: access, affordability, and quality to name a few,” says Lynn Blackwood. “I wanted to provide a voice for Labradorians on this very important topic.”

Farm to School Bootcamp 2018.jpg

Day 10: Emily Doyle | Former Board Member & Current Farm to School Partner

Emily was completing her PhD research on an assessment of the school food environment in our province, at the same time that Food First NL was partnering with Farm to Cafeteria Canada. She is now a partner of ours on our Farm to School work. “I think that school food can be a great tool to educate kids,” says Emily. “It's all a part of discovering the role food plays in building healthy communities.”

Eleanor Swanson.JPG

Day 11: Eleanor Swanson | Founding Member & Current Chair of the Board

 Eleanor was part of the meeting in 1997 that led to the establishment of Food First NL. Since that time, she’s seen how much the organization has raised awareness of food security in nL “When people hear ‘food security’, they no longer think ‘food safety’,” she says, recalling a time when most would assume that food security was about the safe handling, preparation, and storage of food. “Now, it’s being understood in its broadest sense.”

Food First NL Chris Peters.jpg

Day 12: Chris Peters | Teacher at St. Bonaventure’s College

Chris Peters is a teacher at St. Bonaventure’s College in St. John’s, and was pivotal in helping establish the first official Farm to School pilot project in Newfoundland & Labrador. When a group of his students approached him, asking for a wider variety of healthy options in the cafeteria, Peters got in touch with Sarah Ferber at Food First NL.

Susan Greene.JPG

Day 13: Susan Green | Founding Member & Previous Chair

As a founding member and past chair, Susan Green knows a lot about what has made Food First NL a success in its first 20 years. For her, it was always about the organization’s ability to bring like-minded individuals together and create a passionate, capable network of people to advance awareness and action around food security.

jill with cod.jpg

Day 14: Jill Wheaton | Regional Nutritionist & Former Board Member

“I feel Food First NL’s work done at the community level has been very successful, and has created community change. More work like the Everybody Eats projects is key to continuing to make change and raise awareness of food issues in Newfoundland & Labrador,” says Jill. “I attribute most of this to very strong leadership from Kristie Jameson, and support from the provincial nutritionists and dietitians, the agriculture community and board members.


Day 15: Kimberly Orren | Frequent Partner & Consultant on Food First NL’s Projects

“We see local fish as a way of reconnecting with nature and ancestors, and other cultures through the shared human heritage of fishing,” says Kimberly. “I've been encouraged by Food First NL's continued support and encouragement of subsistence gardening and gathering, foraging and berry picking, even hunting.”

Tom Cooper.JPG

Day 16: Tom Cooper | Current Vice Chair & MUN Professor

Though he was initially recruited to serve on the Food First NL board because of his background in strategic planning, it was Tom Cooper’s interest in food security that kept him involved. “Being on an island, in the case of Newfoundland, and with access issues in Labrador, combined with all the accompanying supply chain issues, means that food security and access should be something we are always discussing and developing strategies around.”


Day 17: Darryl Legge | Chicken Farmer & Current Board Member

“I started farming after university, and bought my farm at the age of 30,” says Legge. He then got involved with as many farming organizations or boards as he “could possibly be involved in,” and it was through some of these boards that he was introduced to the work of Food First NL. Legge instantly saw the connection between his family’s work and the efforts of Food First NL. 


Day 18: Ruth MacDOnald | Community Sector Council NL & Partner on Everybody Eats

Ruth says there are “thousands” of successes that Food First NL can claim, but her favourite is the Community Kitchen Best Practices Toolkit. This particular toolkit was designed to assist community organizations in Newfoundland and Labrador in starting a community kitchen. In the hands of Vibrant Communities and its collaborators,  the Toolkit was used to help prepare 2000 meals for 140 families in a single year.

Lynn Vivian-Book.JPG

Day 19: Lynn Vivian-Book | NL Public Health Association & a Partner on Everybody Eats

Lynn Vivian-Book is the current Past-President of the Newfoundland & Labrador Public Health Association. For her, food security efforts would not be possible without organizations like Food First NL. “We are all volunteers. You need to have that hub organization with some resources to bring people together.”

Food First NL Marjorie.jpg

Day 20: Marjorie FLowers | AngajukKâk (Mayor) of Hopedale & Core Partner On Our Food NL

“One time, the coast of Labrador would be left out of things such as the pricing of food baskets to feed a family” says Marjorie Flowers, AngajukKâk (Mayor) of Hopedale. For her, the inclusion of Labrador, and especially coastal Labrador, is just one of the changes that she’s seen since she got involved with Food First NL.