2017 was a year of fighting the good fight, and our members had many meaningful wins that created real impact. They secured grants, hired more employees, and had big, productive collaborations with each other.
We chatted with 18 of them to hear about some of their goals for 2018 and get the lowdown on their great 2017 memories. We’re going to spend the rest of the year telling you about what they had to say.
Next up is Hayley Lapalme, Program Designer/Facilitator for Nourish.
Nourish is a fellowship program for the people in hospitals who set menus and buy food, who want to increase the positive impact of food in healthcare, and of healthcare on food systems. Nourish believes the sector’s food choices can act as an investment in the health of patients and planet, by emphasizing the value of local sustainable, and culturally appropriate food.
What motivated you to start your organization
It started with an observation that the movement for public institutions to ‘buy local’ food was happening in an uncoordinated way, with no retention or sharing of institutional knowledge. There was a lot of turnover in grant-funded ‘local food coordinator’ roles.’ It took a couple years for me to notice this pattern and that it was stalling progress in the movement. While on a trip to visit a friend in California, I witnessed how intergenerational mentoring in communities with Indigenous wisdom was powerful in skill and culture-building. Back in Toronto, I was able to get a grant for a project that applied the same principle of intergenerational learning to create a mentorship program where newcomers and seasoned local food purchasers worked and learned as a community of practice. The program received new life when I teamed up with the McConnell Foundation, and it evolved with a focus on healthcare. We created Nourish to empower healthcare to harness purchasing power and reputational credibility, to highlight the connection between healthy food systems and healthy people. We believe that food is health, and the current cheap food culture undermines the health of people and planet.
Tell me about your biggest accomplishment for 2017?
Our tiny, scrappy team launched a bilingual, national fellowship program that includes twenty-five hospitals, long-term care homes, and aboriginal health centres across the country. Together we are having new conversations about the importance of food and culture in care, challenging the narrative that food is a cost, focusing instead on the value created through healthy, sustainable food – and people are listening. The most special moment for me was to witness one of our cohort members go swiftly to action sourcing traditional foods from local First Nations after one of his Indigenous peers spoke about the centrality of her Miichim program, or traditional food program, in the wellness and recovery of her patients. This notion of learning by coming into relationship with people and ideas you might not otherwise have encountered really lights up my neural pathways. (Ok and my heart.) I think we come to know ourselves better when we come into relationship with one another, and I believe that this is how change happens. I really believe that in this scenario, Kathy (the wise Indigenous woman that so many of us look up to), really helped Dan unlock something that, in a way, he already knew – but just couldn’t yet see.
That is the power of Nourish that we want to create at scale. Everybody already knows food matters, but it can get buried under the noise.
Explain the greatest challenge or roadblock you overcame last year?
Virtual convening! A remote team and twenty-five cohort members spread across 10 provinces and territories, who speak two languages – I am always struggling to find meaningful ways to transcend the distance. This is a hurdle I am in a perpetual state of overcoming. I’m experimenting with a national virtual retreat this winter, I’ll report back…
What is the most rewarding connection or experience CSI facilitated for you last year?
The quiet, silly, humble connections of desk neighbours who are willing to catch a vent or help to wayfind Ontario’s treaty landscape to figure out who’s land we’re on. More than any formal programming, the small moments with our great community are so full of grace and goodness, they really keep my mental health on track. (The cocktail judging with Tonya also helps to keep me grounded in the realness of #YOLO.) CSI is a big part of me feeling fully alive, as a practitioner, as a woman, as a fellow ‘seeker on the path.’
One micro-goal you’re dead set on completing in the new year?
I have two. Find my singing voice. Find my solidarity voice. Use them abundantly. I guess that’s three.