Bettering the Local Food System with Meal Exchange


As we head into 2020 with the climate crisis top of mind, it’s important to recognize the powerful work Meal Exchange has been accomplishing since 1993. If you somehow haven’t heard of Meal Exchange, here’s your chance. Meal Exchange (MX) is a national non-profit facilitating student movement across the country in support of campus kitchens, gardens and farms, food banks, food sovereignty and food procurement. With the help of its resources, students can mobilize and connect with their peers to improve the local food system.

Rewind to 1993: Rahul Raj, an undergraduate at Wilfred Laurier took it upon himself to spend his excess meal plan points to support a food drive on campus. Why? Because using resources, energy and time to contribute to building up communities around him was and is his passion.

Today, Meal Exchange acts to sustainably transform the larger food system to meet the needs of the present without compromising future food security. The result should support local farmers and fishers – ensuring fair treatment and compensation – and protect our ecosystems. It believes in the power of food – and especially, good food: ecologically sound, socially just and nourishing.


Bettering the Local Food System with Meal Exchange


Since its founding in 1993, Meal Exchange has created successful programs, campaigns, and projects, leading it to empowering student leaders in over 40 post-secondary campuses.

    • This workshop introduces students to the concept of a food system and what a more sustainable food system, according to Meal Exchange, could look like.
    • It is highly accessible and is offered both online and in person.
    • Looking to get involved for the first time? It’s a great opportunity to become a member of your local MX chapter.
    • First offered as a pilot project at Ryerson & Lakehead University in 2017, the challenge recognizes that food insecurity is rooted in a complex system driven by factors on the local, provincial and federal levels.
    • It brings together student unions, campus administrators, local organizations, and provincial stakeholders to develop breakthrough community-level interventions and build a movement to address food insecurity at the provincial level.
    • Meal Exchange hopes to extend the challenge to campuses across the country soon.
    • Trick or Eat was established in 1999 and is the program Meal Exchange is most known for. For years, Trick or Eat engaged students across the country in collecting donations for local food agencies through an annual day of action on Halloween.
    • In 2013, MX ran its largest Trick or Eat Campaign in history raising over $475,000 worth of food and $19,000 of funds for food agencies.
    • While Meal Exchange will no longer support student organizers or participants to implement Trick or Eat campaigns, MX has started a national phenomenon and will still provide comprehensive toolkits for those interested in participating.


Bettering the Local Food System with Meal Exchange


  • Between 1993 and 2008, Meal Exchange programs generated $2 million for those in need across Canada, $1.2 million of which was raised between 2004 and 2008.
  • Through their annual Trick or Eat campaigns, it raised about $1.8 million worth of food donations for community and campus food banks and engaged over 40,000 student volunteers in 100 communities across Canada.
  • Meal Exchange has also captured the voices of over 2,600 students in its Student Satisfaction Survey.


Meal Exchange


Getting out there and involved is easier than you think! Meal Exchange currently works with over 40 campuses across the country. Aside from the vast volunteer opportunities year-round, MX also organizes two unique events to participate in through your local chapter.

  • Good Food Week (March 16-20, 2020)
    • Meal Exchange will support students in organizing programs as part of Good Food Week on your campus. The programs can be anything, so get creative! Past examples include a community food share, cooking event, food insecurity rally, and even a sit in.
  • Annual National Student Food Summit (TBA, 2020)
    • The National Student Food Summit (NSFS) is an annual gathering bringing together students from across the country who are passionate about creating food systems that sustain both people and the planet. The summit involves speakers, workshops, an awards ceremony and other exciting events.

We’re inspired by the work you’re doing, Meal Exchange!

Don’t forget to follow Meal Exchange on social media to stay up-to-date on its events near you!

And of course, keep up with all other Toronto Entertainment District BIA’s community stories and follow us on Facebook, Instagram (@entertainmentdistrictto) and Twitter (@Toronto_ED).

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BIA Name Change To Toronto Downtown West BIA

Since 2008, the Toronto Entertainment District along with the area west from Spadina Ave. to Bathurst St. has experienced a significant transformation. A name change to Toronto Downtown West BIA provides the BIA with a more inclusive representation of the business members. The BIA will continue to support members interested in using the name Toronto Entertainment District for promotional purposes where applicable (Toronto Entertainment District is Official Marked with the BIA).

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