We’ve Created a New Position to Advance Our Institutional Food Work … And Hired the Right Woman for the Job

Many of Food First NL’s projects overlap on a common goal: to make the healthy choice an accessible and easy choice for Newfoundlanders & Labradorians.

To continue on this mission, we are working with many partners to ensure the public has access to healthy food in places where many people spend much of their time, like schools, hospitals, and universities. These public institutions feed large volumes of people daily, and therefore play a role in providing access to healthy food through what is offered in their cafeterias and vending machines.

Furthermore, these sectors have profound purchasing power. If they purchase and serve more locally produced foods, they could be serious economic drivers for local agriculture, fisheries, and other food producers, and significantly bolster and support the vitality and self-sufficiency of our province’s food system.

By the end of fall 2018, Food First NL will have helped get locally farmed foods into 4 school cafeterias through our partnership with Farm to Cafeteria Canada and its Farm to School salad bar program. We have also begun laying the groundwork to a pilot program that will see locally grown produce served in a health care facility in the province.

Food First NL is thrilled to announce it has created a new position, “Institutional Food Programs Coordinator,” to continue this momentum in institutional food work, and filled it with a perfect hire, Suzanne Hawkins.

 
 Suzanne Hawkins is settling into her role as our Institutional Food Programs Coordinator

Suzanne Hawkins is settling into her role as our Institutional Food Programs Coordinator

Originally from Cape Broyle on the Southern Shore, Suzanne joined our team with an interest in making food security knowledge and policies more accessible to the communities and people they impact the most.

She has worked in community engagement, poverty reduction, and food security in some of the country’s largest capital cities – including Vancouver, Toronto, and Montreal – before returning to St. John’s and taking this position at Food First NL.

When not at work, she’s still at work in other local endeavours: she and her partner Erin recently started a small-batch kombucha company, which specializes in organic and local flavours. They also run LOAM, a natural dye and textile studio where they teach natural dye workshops.

Suzanne's First Project …

 
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Suzanne has already dug in on her first big, comprehensive project here: this fall, Food First NL will be engaging key stakeholders in a review of the current School Food Guidelines.

She’ll be working closely with the Department of Children, Seniors, and Social Development and a committee of key advisors involved in school food, and talking to people who use the guide or are impacted by the guide, to collect their recommendations for improvements.

The School Food Guidelines were created in 2006 with the aim of making schools a healthier environment by ensuring students and teachers have access to healthy food and beverages in their cafeterias, vending machines, and at school events.

The school food environment can influence our eating habits and how we eat for the rest of our lives—making schools important places to foster and promote healthy eating.

The Guidelines were last updated in 2008, so Suzanne has her work cut out for her in leading its review process. Her email address is Suzanne@foodfirstnl.ca, if you want to get in touch about it.