Our approach

The Foundation’s Sustainable Food Systems initiative aims to affect systemic change by building food systems that create vibrant local economies, ensure environmental sustainability and contribute to health and wellbeing for all people.

We look for and act on opportunities to make changes in the food system through investing, granting and convening with a focus on: institutional food (particularly in health care facilities), regional food economies and community food security (notably with Indigenous and Northern communities).

Focus Areas

Nourish aims to build a future where the impact of food on health is understood and valued.

We are building a national community of innovators in healthcare who have agency over the culture and practice of food in their organizations and communities. By implementing improved menus, more sustainable purchasing policies, and projects that increase patient and resident well-being, these influencers are creating actionable solutions to pressing food-related issues.

We also carry out strategic communications to reinforce the connection between food systems and health, and convene across sectors to incite public and private policy change toward building more sustainable food value chains.

Nourish formed a national cohort of 25 institutional innovators, each selected for their vision to elevate the role of food in patient care and community wellbeing. Supported by facilitators, mentors, and partners, the cohort will work collaboratively on the challenges and opportunities ahead. Ultimately, their unifying goal is to leverage health care institutions to be anchors of health, within and beyond their walls.

Learn more about Nourish.

Supporting the work of schools, hospitals and campuses to serve healthier, more local and sustainable food.

By providing healthy food and influencing supply chains to shift toward more local and sustainable production, institutions can play a transformative role in creating socially, economically and environmentally viable food systems.

Hospitals, long-term care facilities, universities and schools have the power to drive food system change . Students, teachers, parents, patients, and doctors can steer the purchasing policies and practices of their institutions toward greater health and sustainability, while providing visible leadership in their communities.

To create a critical mass of organizations willing to adopt sustainable food procurement practices, we need specific support, incentives and learning opportunities. The Institutional Food Program supports this work and fosters idea sharing among decision makers by widely disseminating stories and successful methods.

We teamed up with non-profit organizations to support work in schools (including Farm to Cafeteria and the Coalition for Healthy School Food) and university campuses (including Meal Exchange). Our current work is focused on the health care sector (see the Nourish section above).

Deepening food security across communities and focussing on how approaches and lessons in northern Manitoba can inform work elsewhere in Northern Canadian.

We have supported work in community food security by providing major grants to Community Food Centres Canada and the Greater Vancouver Food Bank Society.

In addition, we created the Banking on Change Fund to increase food security at the community level by supporting a shift in approach by local food banks. The fund is helping food banks move the focus of their strategy away from emergency food aid and toward providing healthy and sustainable food, in addition to supporting civic engagement on hunger and poverty issues. To date, we have provided grants to twelve local organizations across the country.

Our community food security work is now focused on northern and indigenous communities. We’re currently participating in the Northern Manitoba Food, Culture and Community Collaborative, an innovative partnership between northern communities, northern advisors, funders and organizations. Together, they are working to foster healthier and stronger communities in Northern Manitoba through improved access to healthy food and the development of resilient local economies.

This program aimed to strengthen the ability of regional supply chains to make healthy, sustainably produced food accessible to all people. Now closed to granting, the resources and reports from the program are provided below for reference.

Sustainable regional value chains are the series of relationships between producers, processors, distributors, food service providers, retailers, and other actors needed to get healthy, sustainably produced food to regional markets on a large scale.

The program focussed on three areas:

  1. Regional Food System Assessments: View funded assessments here. 
  2. Business planning
  3. Implementation: supporting projects with viable business plans. A learning network to share best practices was led by Food Secure Canada; resources available here. The Sustainable Livelihoods Framework was developed to guide evaluation. Read the Evidence of Change report.

How We Support Change

Funder

Current granting is focused on food and health care through Nourish, and northern food security by way of the Northern Manitoba Food Culture and Community Collaborative.

Strategic learning partner

We work closely with a range organizations and partners to understand and contribute to systemic change. We commission research and publications to deepen understanding in strategic areas, including local food

We work closely with a range organizations and partners to understand and contribute to systemic change. We commission research and publications to deepen understanding in strategic areas, including local food economies, health care and holistic approaches to food that take into account social, economic and environmental effects.

Convener

We collaborate with partners from an array of organizations, industries and communities to co-develop solutions to tough problems and to learn from our diverse experiences. We actively participate in several

We collaborate with partners from an array of organizations, industries and communities to co-develop solutions to tough problems and to learn from our diverse experiences. We actively participate in several food funder collaborations, including the Canadian Food Funder Collaborative and the Global Alliance for the Future of Food.

Capacity builder

We build the organizational capacities of key actors in the food system, including charities and non-profits (through Innoweave and Food Secure Canada), social enterprises (impact investment funds and food business

We build the organizational capacities of key actors in the food system, including charities and non-profits (through Innoweave and Food Secure Canada), social enterprises (impact investment funds and food business “boot camps”) and institutional innovators (currently focused on health care through Nourish).

Advocate

We advocate for causes we espouse, including national food policies and greater recognition of the important role food plays in health. We prioritize joint advocacy with other funders or as

We advocate for causes we espouse, including national food policies and greater recognition of the important role food plays in health. We prioritize joint advocacy with other funders or as members of multi-sector collaborations.

Investor

We amplify our work through the power of impact investing (Investeco, Renewal, Area 1 Farms) and responsible, active investing (NEI).

Recent Funding & Investments

Northern Manitoba Food, Culture & Community Collaborative

The Northern Manitoba Food, Culture and Community Collaborative (NMFCCC) will use the funds to further develop projects and share approaches, including social enterprise, that focus on improving food security and [...]

$ 500,000

Learn more

Seed Change

USC Canada (now Seed Change) will use this grant to increase the number of farmers and researchers engaged in sustainable farming, participatory plant breeding through the Bauta Family Initiative on [...]

$ 491,000

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La tablée des chefs

A grant from the Foundation enables La tablée des chefs to introduce their Brigades culinaires program Canada-wide in collaboration with other organizations working on food issues in schools.

$ 400,000

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Area One Farms: Area One Farms Fund III

$ 5,000,000

Learn more