20 Voices from 20 Years: 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 Food First NL establish the first official Farm to School pilot project in Newfoundland & Labrador, in 2015.
“I come from New Brunswick. Twenty years ago, I am not sure anyone was talking about where food was coming from,” says Peters.
“And now? There are farmers markets everywhere. Local butchers. Artisan bakers and brewers making use of New Brunswick grown and milled grains. This has come about because people were willing to challenge the status quo.”
He says he is seeing the same food system changes in NL now. “More and more, people are aware of the benefits of local produce, that farming here is possible, and the food just tastes better. If you can grab people with the taste of a Newfoundland carrot plucked from the ground in October, you've got them sold. Or the rich nuanced flavour of Newfoundland garlic. Or even the lowly spud. I could go on.”
His passion for local produce was pivotal in setting the seeds of the mounting Farm to School movement in our province. When a group of his studentsapproached him, asking for a wider variety of healthy options in the cafeteria, Peters got in touch with Sarah Ferber at Food First NL.
Together with Lester’s Farm, Chartwells Food Services, and Farm to Cafeteria Canada, they launched the first “Farm to School Salad Bar” of its kind in Newfoundland. Peters says one of the main ideas behind the program is to get kids thinking about food — where it comes from and how it’s grown.
“Food First NL has prioritized building from the ground up,” says Peters. “Yes, they have worked to implement policy initiatives, and they have networked with government officials, but their strength resides in relationships rooted at a community level, because at that level, everyone has already bought into the necessity of local, nutrient dense food. They don't need to be convinced. They see the health crisis in this province. They know we have the capacity to make changes.”