Meet our MC and Keynote Speakers
We are excited to introduce our Master of Ceremonies who will guide us through two days of thought-provoking discussions and engaging workshops. Our MC brings a wealth of knowledge and expertise in the farm-to-school movement and is passionate about transforming how food is experienced, learned, and celebrated in schools across Canada.
We are also delighted to announce our lineup of confirmed keynote speakers, who are dedicated to Indigenous foods, outdoor learning, school garden initiatives, and contributing to a more sustainable, healthy, and equitable food system. These speakers will share their passion for food and empowering the next generation. Their insights and experiences will be a source of inspiration for all conference attendees.
Farm to Cafeteria Canada
Jesse (she/her) lives and works on the unceded lands of the xʷməθkʷəy̓əm (Musqueam), sḵwx̱wú7mesh (Squamish), and sel̓íl̓witulh (Tsleil-Waututh) nations. Jesse grew up in rural Ontario, on the lands of the Anishinaabe and Haudenosaunee, where she developed a love for local food and cooking. This instilled in her a lifelong passion for sustainable food systems and community building.
Jesse is the Executive Director of Farm to Cafeteria Canada (F2CC), where she is privileged to collaborate with school communities and partners across the country on a shared mission to transform how food is experienced, learned and celebrated in all schools across Canada.
From 2018 to 2020 Jesse served as F2CC's National Manager, Farm to School Initiatives. Her previous experience includes managing projects across the continuum of care at Vancouver Coastal Health and Provincial Health Services Authority, including the provincial Healthy Schools and Healthy Communities initiatives.
From 2017 to 2021 she was an active member of the Vancouver Food Policy Council's Leadership Team, and the Food Justice and Zero Waste working groups.
Jesse holds a Bachelor of Science in Nutrition and Nutraceutical Science and a Master of Science in Human Health and Nutrition, both from the University of Guelph; a Diploma in Project Management from Simon Fraser University; and a Certificate in Food Security from Toronto Metropolitan University.
In her spare time, Jesse enjoys exploring BC's wilderness, experimenting in her garden, and getting creative in her kitchen.
Jared Qwustenuxun Williams
Indigenous Foods Educator
Jared is a passionate traditional foods chef who spent much of his youth with his late grandmother, immersed in the Salish culture. After graduating from the culinary arts at Vancouver Island University, he spent a decade working in restaurants across Vancouver Island before deciding to move back home to Quw’utsun. He took on the role of Elder’s Kitchen Manager at Cowichan Tribes and spent over a decade cooking for his elders. Qwustenuxun now works as an Indigenous foods educator, writer, and consultant.
Jared is a recipient of the Canadian Online Publishing Award for Best Multicultural Story, and was nominated for the 2022 BC Multiculturalism and Anti-Racism Award. Jared supported the First Nations Health Authority complete their first smoked salmon project, proving that Salish smoked salmon is a safe and effective technique for food preservation.
When he is not working on furthering Salish food sovereignty Qwustenuxun spends his time with his young sons, sailing and camping around the Salish sea.
Room to Play Consulting
Megan is a mom, teacher, master gardener, and classroom gardener. She 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 Ph.D. candidate at UBC in curriculum and pedagogy and shares her learnings on Instagram and Twitter at @roomtoplay. Room to Play is a philosophy of nature-inspired design, parenting, teaching, and gardening.
Megan offers a wide range of research-backed consulting services for organizations, parents, teachers, and school districts. Visit her website to learn more.
Coalition for Healthy School Food
Since 2018 Carolyn has helped coordinate the Coalition for Healthy School Food, a network of over 250 non-profit member organizations from every province and territory advocating for the creation of a universal cost-shared school food program for Canada that would see all Kindergarten to Grade 12 students having daily access to healthy food at school.
In her role as Knowledge Mobilization Coordinator she facilitates network conversations, writes briefing notes and policy submissions, communicates with policymakers, and develops materials to help members make the case for investment and support from all levels of government.
In addition to her work with the Coalition, Carolyn works as a Research and Knowledge Translation Lead for Farm to Cafeteria Canada, where she led the development of the Farm to School Evaluation Framework for Canada, and is the Coordinator of Sustain Ontario’s Edible Education Network.
In all of her roles, she works to better enable individuals and organizations to share resources, ideas, and experience, work together on advocacy, and facilitate efforts to support children and youth in eating, growing, cooking, celebrating, and learning about healthy, local and sustainably produced food.
Prior to her time in the school food movement, Carolyn studied Environmental Science at the University of Guelph and received her Master's degree in Adult Education and Community Development from OISE, University of Toronto.
Carolyn lives and works in Ottawa on the traditional unceded territory of the Algonquin Anishnaabe People.
BC Chapter of the Coalition for Healthy School Food
Samantha (Sam) works for the Public Health Association of BC, coordinating the BC Chapter of the Coalition for Healthy School Food. She formerly worked for PHABC as a Community Animator with Farm to School BC.
Sam is an MSc. alumna from UBC's Faculty of Land and Food Systems where she studied agricultural policy and food sovereignty, and a graduate of the UBC Farm sustainable agriculture practicum and United Way's Public Policy Institute.
BC Chapter of the Coalition for Healthy School Food
Brent has been involved in the school food movement for many years as an educator and advocate. He currently teaches Edible Education in a prep role at Lord Roberts Elementary, a large, diverse, urban public school in Vancouver’s West End. He is a co-founder of LunchLAB, a lunch program that provides Grade 6 and 7 student leaders with hands-on, cross-curricular learning around food literacy. LunchLAB is a partnership with Growing Chefs and Fresh Roots, and students work with chefs to prepare a healthy, delicious lunch for up to 200 of their peers. LunchLAB prioritizes giving students the opportunity to connect over food, community and sharing meals.
Brent has a long history of involvement in collaborative endeavours aimed at improving the food system, in schools and beyond. He was at the founding meetings of the Coalition for Healthy School Food and was involved in forming the BC Chapter of the Coalition, which he remains involved in as a member of the Steering Committee.
He is currently on the Board of Growing Chefs and is helping explore the growth of LunchLAB into other schools. Brent is a former chair and member of the Vancouver Food Policy Council and the former Director of the BC Food Systems Network. He completed his M.Sc. in Integrated Studies in Land and Food Systems at UBC, which he completed while working with the Think&EatGreen@School project.