Food First NL 20 Voices from 20 Years: Jill Wheaton |
Regional Nutritionist & Former Board Member
Jill Wheaton got involved with Food First NL (then The Food Security Network) when she first started working as Regional Nutritionist with Central Health.
However, it was when her daughter started school that Food First NL’s “healthy food for all” mantra really hit home.
“When I saw what kids were bringing to school, access to healthy food became very important to me,” says Jill. “I quickly realized that the food environment in NL really needed some improvements, and it was all around that same time that food policies started to shape up and things like the School Food Guidelines were developed.”
Jill got involved with the Central Wellness Coalition at that time, and noticed community grant requests for food-based programs like cooking classes and community gardens were gaining popularity.
“I felt the Food Security Network was doing very important grassroots work and I wanted to be involved,” says Jill. While attending workshops and webinars, Jill began reviewing resources and providing recommendations for new material. “When the opportunity arose to become a board member, I was very honoured and excited to take on that role.”
In her time as board member, Jill has enjoyed watching the growth of community gardens and backyard gardens throughout the province. “They have popped up everywhere, and it’s visible as you drive though communities,” she says.
“I think gardens are something that’s tangible and doable for most people and communities, so they start with that, and hopefully move on to other food security changes.”
“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. Everyone playing a small role has brought Food First NL to a great place!”