Research Interests

  • School Food Programs, International
  • Canadian School Food Programs
  • Farm-to-School (F2S) Programs
  • Food Policy
  • Participatory Action Research
  • Public Food Procurement
  • Economic Development
  • Sustainable Food Systems
  • Local/Regional Food Systems
  • Child Health

Informed by my time working for the Ontario Student Nutrition Program, my research examines school-based food and local food ‘farm-to-school’ programs. As a community-engaged researcher, I examine school food models across Canada in partnership with school food organizations and federal, provincial and territorial governments.

In 2019, I was honoured to participate in the Government of Canada’s first roundtable on developing a National School Food Program.

Research Projects

Canadian School Food Implementation Case Studies

At the University of Saskatchewan I am coordinating the largest analysis of school food program implementation models in Canada under the supervision of Dr. Rachel Engler-Stringer. This study will yield lessons from every province and territory to inform the creation of a world-class, locally-adapted National School Food Program.

This project is funded by the Canadian Institutes of Health Research (CIHR), Agriculture and Agri-food Canada, The University of Saskatchewan, and Mitacs.

Title of Project: Examining School Food Models to Inform Decision-Making for a Universal and Nationally-Harmonized School Food Program in Canada

The Canadian School Food Program Survey

In collaboration with school food policy pioneer Dr. Mary McKenna, I surveyed Canadian government ministries and departments that funded school food programs in 2018/19 to create the first national baseline of programmatic coverage in Canada.

In January 2022, results from the Canadian School Food Program Survey were presented in a webinar co-hosted by the Canadian Association for Food Studies’ School Food Working Group and the Coalition for Healthy School Food. The results of this survey are published in the journal of Canadian Food Studies.

Linking Farm and School in New Regional Agri-Food Value Chains

This project explored the economic activity generated by local procurement practices by two large-scale student nutrition programs in Ontario. This three-year project (2018-2021) funded by the Ontario Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs (OMAFRA) found that an average of 37% of Ontario-grown food was purchased by Ontario schools participating in student nutrition programs intermediated by non-profit bulk purchasing organizations.

This finding suggests that if the predominantly decentralized student nutrition programs in the province adopted a regional approach to bulk purchasing produce, the agri-food sector would benefit from increased sales and schools would benefit from lower prices, increasing the sustainability of these programs.

I had the pleasure to discuss my research with the Honourable Patty Hadju, former Federal Minister of Employment, Workforce and Labour at a University of Guelph roundtable on February 14, 2019.

To learn more about my research, click the image about to read my article in the Conversation Canada.

School Food Around the World: Lessons for Canada

This webinar series explores how other countries implement their programs, how they are funded/cost-shared, and monitored by different levels of government and external stakeholders. This project is a collaboration between the (Canadian) Coalition for Healthy School Food (CHSF) and George Brown College (CHSF) and is supported by a SSHRC grant led by Gary Hoyer (GBC).

A Survey of Canadian Organizations and Agencies Providing Food to School Students During COVID-19

Since schools started to close in March 2020 in response to COVID-19, many organizations are continuing to provide food for school students (and in some cases, their families) across the country.

To help capture information about these important efforts, Dr. Rachel Engler-Stringer, Dr. Mary McKenna, Suvadra Datta Gupta and I launched a survey. The information collected will provide a clearer picture of strategies for food provision and valuable information to inform future planning.

For more information, please read our guest blog post on the Coalition for Healthy School Food’s website.