Made in Canada Well being Survey

Envisioning a Physical Food Hub at UBCO

Jun 12, 2020 | Food and Water

Envisioning a Physical Food Hub at UBCO: 

This summer, we are working on a project titled Envisioning a Physical Food Hub at UBCO. This project addresses growing levels of food insecurity among students at UBCO: over 40% of our students experience food insecurity. This is an unacceptable number.

What is Food Security?

The UN Food and Agriculture Association (FAO) defines food security: 

“Food security exists when all people, at all times, have physical and economic access to sufficient safe and nutritious food that meets their dietary needs and food preferences for an active and healthy life.”

Community food security is a “condition in which all community residents obtain a safe, culturally acceptable, nutritionally adequate diet through a sustainable food system that maximizes community self-reliance, social justice, and democratic decision-making” (Hamm and Bellows, 2002).

5 A’s of Food Security:

Availability: Sufficient food for all people at all times.
Accessibility: Physical and economic access to food for all at all times.
Adequacy: Access to food that is nutritious and safe, and produced in environmentally sustainable ways.
Acceptability: Access to culturally acceptable food, which is produced and obtained in ways that do not compromise people’s dignity, self-respect or human rights.
Agency: The policies and processes that enable the achievement of food security.

Sounds great, right?
Well, in practice, ensuring food security is difficult! Over 4 million Canadians live in food insecure households. Food insecurity is well understood to be a result of financial constraints.

Across Canada, about 40% of postsecondary students (2 in 5) experience food insecurity. Indigenous and racialized students are disproportionately affected by food insecurity.

Our Project

Our goal is to construct a physical space on campus that provides programs and services aimed at increasing food security on campus and in the community. We envision a bustling, bright, and welcoming community space where students feel invited, respected, dignified, and empowered.

We have spoken with a variety of representatives from food initiatives at postsecondary institutions and community programs and services across Canada in order to gain a deeper understanding of current food systems actions and projects. We have consulted the literature on food security, climate change, community well-being, and sustainable/healthy built environment.

We are now turning to you in order to understand what types of programs, services, partnerships, models, and physical space will best serve our specific campus community.

We’d love to hear from you. Contact Casey Hamilton if you would like to find out more or share your thoughts on the questions below.

Thank you for helping us create a more sustainable, healthier, and food secure campus community.


  1. What food security programs and services do you want to see on campus?
  2. What type of environment would make you feel most comfortable to access food security programs and services?
  3. How might students want to use this space? How would you use this space?
  4. What types of partnerships (both internal and external to the university) could be beneficial for a food centre on campus?
  5. Would you like to see a garden or farm space on campus?
  6. Anything else?


Check out these links for inspiration

Ryerson University: Centre for Studies in Food Security 

The Stop Community Food Centre 

Embark Sustainability: Simon Fraser University 

Food Secure Canada

LifeCycles Project: Victoria, B.C. 


Tarasuk V, Mitchell A. (2020) Household food insecurity in Canada, 2017-18. Toronto: Research to identify policy options to reduce food insecurity (PROOF). Retrieved from

Photo credit to Okanagan Fruit Tree Project