20 Voices from 20 Years: Eleanor Swanson |
Founding Member & Current Chair of the Board
“What has been a key success of Food First NL has been the tenacity to keep it going,” says Eleanor Swanson, current chair of the Food First NL Board of Directors.
“They saw the big picture,” she says, recalling the many individuals who helped sustain Food First NL throughout its first 20 years. In the absence of government programs, she says it was their grassroots, basic work that built the organization that exists today.
As chair of the Board of Directors, Eleanor oversees the activities of Food First NL, and provides oversight and assistance to set the goals of the organization.
Eleanor herself has been with Food First NL since the very beginning. “I was at the first meeting” she says.
That first meeting happened in late 1997, when a local action group of Dietitians of Canada put out a call for people interested in starting an organization devoted to Food Security in NL. At the time, the meeting was called specifically in response growing concern about hunger in our province. It was from that meeting that The Food Security Network NL (now Food First NL) was born.
“I was at the first meeting, because I was Director of Nutrition [with the provincial government], and I was keenly interested in the topic,” Eleanor says “and to address needs not being addressed.”
Twenty years later, Eleanor says it’s hopeful to see more and more people with a better understanding of food security
“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,” she says, as a conversation about the availability and affordability of food.
With many more people involved in the conversation, Eleanor sees the role of Food First NL as more important than ever. “For the next 20 years, we’ll be guided by our many partners in many, many sectors,” she says, “and providing leadership, having the conversation, being a guide to government.”