Program Advisory Body

Experts at the Table
Get to Know Our Program Advisory Body (PAB)
We are pleased to present our committee of recognized school food champions who are collaborating with us to create an innovative and inspirational conference program that highlights leading examples from multiple fields, including Agriculture, Health, Education, and Academia. 
Our Program Advisory Body (PAB) members bring a wealth of knowledge and experience to the table, and we invite you to read on and learn more about their diverse backgrounds and contributions.
Arzeena Hamir 
Arzeena is an agronomist and certified organic vegetable and fruit grower in unceded K’omoks Territory where she and her husband run Amara Farm. Arzeena helped to start the first salad bar in the community at Huband School and has supported several other schools to start similar projects. 
While she served as Area B Director in the Comox Valley Regional District, she helped to start and fund the Comox Valley Food Policy Council. She is currently the Board Chair of Young Agrarians and the founder of the Mid Island Farmer’s Institute.
Sarah van Heeswijk
Sarah is the Manager of Youth Development Programs with the BC Ministry of Agriculture and Food. Sarah is passionate about food and farming and loves to share that enthusiasm with young people through her work with community and school organizations.
Dr. Tammara Soma, MCIP RPP
Tammara is an Assistant Professor at the School of Resource and Environmental Management (Planning program) at Simon Fraser University and Research Director of the Food Systems Lab
She leads numerous tri-council funded research projects and conducts research on issues pertaining to food loss and waste (FLW), food systems planning, food security, food literacy and the circular food economy. She is routinely featured in international and local media (The Guardian, BBC, CBC, TVO, CTV, National Observer, Chatelaine and more). 
Tammara is a registered professional planner and a proud mother of three.
Natalie Laframboise, RD, MScFN
Natalie is a Registered Dietitian and Manager in the Office of Nutrition Policy and Promotion at the BC Ministry of Health. Since 2010, Natalie has worked in Population and Public Health at the Ministry providing leadership for several nutrition policy files including the Trans Fat Regulation, Feed BC in Health Care, and sodium and sugary drink reduction. 
Natalie is also responsible for school-age nutrition policies, programs and resources including Teach Food First and the Guidelines for Food and Beverage Sales in BC schools. With gratitude, Natalie lives and works on the traditional territories of the Lekwungen peoples of the Esquimalt and Songhees Nations.  
Jessie Newman
Jessie is from the Gag’yaals Kiigaway (clan) of K’uuna (Skedans) and is a member of the Haida Nation. Jessie is Haida on her maternal side and Heiltsuk and Kwakwaka’wakw on her paternal side. She grew up in Hlgaagilda (Skidegate) and W̓áláqvḷa (Bella Bella), and come from two fishing families. She was fortunate to have access to many of her ancestral foods in her youth and has always loved how they bring family and community together.

Jessie completed her Dietetics degree from UBC in 2015 and currently holds the position of Indigenous Health Dietitian with Island Health, working with North Island communities towards achieving their wellness goals. This includes supporting Nations in their food sovereignty and food security initiatives, as well as diabetes prevention and management. 
From an early age, Jessie has understood the healing power of our foods and truly believes our foods are our medicine.

Megan Zeni
Megan is a professional educator with over 25 years of classroom experience. She re-imagined the prep role at her public school and turned it into her dream job of teaching all day in an outdoor and garden classroom. 
Megan is an advocate for taking children outdoors in all kinds of weather to learn, play, and grow. She believes just about anything can be taught in a school garden, and that class time spent in nature develops empathy, resiliency, and self-regulated learning. 
Megan is a PhD candidate at UBC in curriculum and pedagogy, and shares out her learning on Instagram and Twitter at @roomtoplay.

Learn more about the conference.