Meal Exchange is a national student-founded, youth-driven, registered charity organized to address local hunger by mobilizing the talent and passion of students. Since 1993, our programs have been run in over 75 communities across Canada and generated donations of over $3 million worth of food and funds to address local hunger.Our Mission: is to engage, educate, and mobilize youth to work with their communities in order to alleviate hunger locally and achieve food security.Our Vision: is a country where everyone has access to safe, nutritious, affordable food.
In 2010, Meal Exchange developed National BBQ Day for the purpose of reaching people outside of our network, people who are just beginning to explore food issues. The goal of the campaign is to encourage people to hold a BBQ with locally purchased food in support of their local food economies. One of the barriers for the general public Iack of awareness of where they can purchase locally produced food. By simply providing an online platform for people to find and purchase locally grown food in their area, my.bbq.ca will reduce demand for food grown and shipped in from longer distances -- as well as for food grown with little regard for surrounding ecosystems or human health. In Phase I of this social enterprise, we will focus on expanding the campaign in the GTA by piloting the licensing of National BBQ Day to local businesses. For a fee, they will be profiled on the my.bbq.ca and receive in-store promotional material. The goal is to increase exposure of these vendors to a new audience and increase foot-traffic in their stores. Encouraging a larger urban consumer base to ‘vote with their fork’ and shift to a local food economy, we can advance the case for supporting local farmers which leads to job creation and the increased food security of our region.
National BBQ day has the potential to reduction emissions by increasing the average Canadian’spropensity to purchase local food while utilizing the most efficient methods of transportation used bymid- large scale grocery chains.Currently Canada imports about half the food we consume, a percentage that if decreased would resultin a significant reduction in emissions. According to Rich Pirog, the associate director of the LeopoldCenter for Sustainable Agriculture at Iowa State University, the conventional food distribution systemuses 4 -17 times more fuel and creates 5-17 times more CO2 than local and regional food systems.He also estimated that replacing imported food in city the size of Waterloo with local food would beequivalent to taking 16,191 cars off the road.How local food is distributed is also an important consideration and why we think National Barbequeday is so affective at reducing emissions. The project targets mid to large grocery store chain that usehigh efficiency transportation methods to bring local produce to their location. For example a pick-up truck produces more than 10 times the emission than a transport truck, which produces 10 timesmore emissions than rain. A mid to large scale grocery store that utilizes high efficiency transportationmethods has the greatest potential to reduce emissions.National BBQ day has the potential to increases the propensity for the average consumer to purchaselocal produce, and because the targeted retailers used high efficiency transportation methods, theindividual reduction of emission would be closer to the a 17 fold reduction mentioned above.
Meal Exchange is the lead organizer for this venture. We currently rely on our current network of over 15,000 individuals, 250 non-profit organizations and 20 companies to support our work. Already confirmed for National BBQ Day 2012 is Niagara winery, Chateau des Charmes as a sponsor.Dave Kranenburg, the Executive Director for Meal Exchange founded the University of Guelph chapter in 1997, was a founding member of the Board of Directors. He serves on the management team for Food Secure Canada and an Associate Member of the Toronto Food Policy Council.
In 2012, the goal will be to license 25 retailers in the GTA as a social enterprise pilot. In its second year, we will expand licensing to local manufacturers and expand retailer licensing to the province of Ontario. By 2014 we intend to license retailers and manufacturers in communities across Canada.