Mission and Priorities
The People's Food Institute advances the right to food, food sovereignty, sustainable food systems and health-focused, ecological practices through direct program support, policy work, research and education. Founded in 2018 by food movement leaders inspired by the People’s Food Policy Project, the People’s Food Institute aims to:
Advance the right to food, food security, and food sovereignty by conducting research on inclusive food system strategies and governance.
- Race, gender, poverty, colonialism and other systemic forms of injustice all intersect in food systems. The People’s Food Institute supports research to understand these underlying issues and how different food systems affect society and the environment. Through workshops, seminars and conferences, we share these emerging insights with a broad and growing community.
Promote health by educating the public on well-being, nutrition, and sustainable food systems.
- Our health and the health of the planet is intertwined, and nowhere is this more obvious than in food systems. The People’s Food Institute understands that our future health and nutrition depends on how we choose to grow and distribute our food now and into the future. Through educational initiatives, we will build understanding with others to shift our food systems to prioritize environmental and human health.
Promote ecological agricultural practices by educating the public and conducting research.
- Driven by innovative and dedicated farmers, the support for and understanding of ecological agriculture is expanding everyday. The People’s Food Institute encourages this shift towards ecological agricultural practices by conducting research and translating the results of findings into recommendations that can guide community action across the country.
The People’s Food Institute is a registered charity.
Lauren Baker (Chair) +
Lauren Baker, PhD, has more than 20 years of experience facilitating cross-sectoral research, policy and advocacy for sustainable food systems in non-profit, academic, business, policy and philanthropic contexts. Lauren’s expertise ranges from researching agricultural biodiversity in Mexico to negotiating and developing municipal food policy and programs. Lauren is currently Director of Programs with the Global Alliance for the Future of Food, an alliance of philanthropic foundations working to transform global food systems. At the Global Alliance, Lauren’s work is focused on the intersections between food systems and health, climate change, agroecology and true cost accounting. Previously, Lauren led the Toronto Food Policy Council, a citizen advisory group embedded within the City of Toronto’s Public Health Division, and was the Founding Director of Sustain Ontario — the Alliance for Healthy Food and Farming. Lauren lectures in the Global Food Equity program at the University of Toronto, and is a research associate with Ryerson University’s Centre for Studies in Food Security.
Lucia Stephen (Vice Chair) +
Lucia Stephen is an organizer, educator and activist for food and social justice. With over a decade of achievements in advancing the future of food systems, she has led and supported dozens of initiatives focused on farm renewal and regenerative agriculture. She has assisted several organizations across Canada and the United States in uniting common goals and leveraging unique resources to strengthen community impacts for the food movement. During her tenure with the Atlantic Canadian Organic Regional Network (ACORN), Lucia co-founded and coordinated the Grow A Farmer Apprenticeship and Mentorship Programs for new and aspiring organic farmers across Atlantic Canada. From 2016-2018, she served as co-chair for Food Secure Canada's New Farmer Initiative. She has advised and served on numerous boards, including Food Secure Canada, FarmWorks Investment Co-operative, and Slow Food Nova Scotia. Lucia currently works as Partnership and Outreach Manager for The Market Gardener, an impact-driven social enterprise that aims to grow and support the global movement of small-scale organic agriculture. Guided by the belief that food unites all, her work aims to reduce barriers and establish creative solutions to complex issues affecting small farm sustainability.
Eric Chaurette (Secretary) +
Julie Price +
Julie's family is from a small farm in Southwest Manitoba. She has always been interested in the power of food and food systems. She has an Agriculture degree, a Masters of Natural Resource Management, and work experience in the private and not-for-profit sectors. However, over the last 15 years, she learned so much from the people, communities and organizations that she has had the pleasure to work with (Food Matters Manitoba, Harvest Moon Local Food Initiative, Farmers' Markets Association of Manitoba, Opaskwayak Cree Nation, Peguis First Nation, and many more). She appreciates learning from Indigenous people and learning how food plays a role in cultural reclamation, community sovereignty, and community strengthening. She currently works for the Northern Manitoba Food, Culture & Community Collaborative, hosted by Tides Canada and has been privileged to work and learn with communities in Northern Manitoba about Indigenous Food Systems. She also has three kids and leads a garden program in their school.
Julie has experience in fundraising and community building, and shares what she has learned in working with rural and remote parts of Canada on food systems.
Amanda Sheedy +
Passionate about community engagement as a foundation for food sovereignty, Amanda has spent most of her career in the non-profit sector coordinating diverse actors to take concerted action for change. After coordinating the People’s Food Policy Project (2009 - 2011), she took up the role of Director of Development and Engagement to support the development of Food Secure Canada as a national voice of the food movement. Working as a consultant since 2016, she supports Indigenous nations and organizations in community-led conservation, food action and policy development, collaborative multi-stakeholder planning and community engagement. With twenty years of experience in community development, her dedication to meaningful and culturally appropriate public and stakeholder engagement has earned her the status of trusted ally amongst those she works with.
Amanda’s approach to her work is informed by a solid academic foundation including a Masters in Public Health, a graduate diploma in Community Economic Development, and a Bachelor of Science in Environmental Health. She lives in Montreal, QC with her partner and two children.
Jacqueline (Jake) Freeman +
Jake is a Michif artist from Winnipeg. Her family is from rural Manitoba and as a child she spent most of her summers with extended family on their farm in the Plumas area. She has a Bachelor of Science degree and a Chemical and Biosciences Technology diploma but is also connected to her culture and the other Nations who reside on the territory.
Jake worked as a public servant in the agriculture sector for 20 years and she believes in the philosophy of working for people and making a difference. Over the past few years Jake has had the privilege to give a voice to regional, remote, urban, and Indigenous locations. Over the years she has been a part of a fabulous team working on Indigenous knowledge and science as well as a facilitator on cultural awareness - specifically for the Métis Nation.
This is Jake’s first time joining a board and she is looking forward to her learning journey while giving a voice to people in all regions who don’t have access to healthy foods or food systems.
Hina Yousuf (Treasurer) +
Hina Yousuf is a CPA from Toronto. She has a Bachelor of Commerce degree from the University of Toronto. Hina started off her career at Deloitte and is currently working as a controller at Park N Fly. This is Hina’s first time joining a board and is excited about learning the journey. Hina has volunteered in various initiatives and believes in making a difference and contributing in society. Hina has volunteered in soup kitchens, working with People-to-People organizations, food banks, city festivals, mentoring, and working with special needs children, and coordinating after-school programs for children.
Ashley Jean-Marie +
Ashley is the founder of Nestor’s Lab, a management consulting practice. Previously, he was a member of the Canadian foreign service, where he helped manage trade and economic relations between Canada and markets such as Japan and China. He also served as a Canadian diplomat in India and occupied various finance/accounting manager positions at several federal departments. Ashley holds an MBA from the University of Ottawa, a Bachelor of Commerce from HEC Montréal, and passed professional accounting and investment exams including the Canadian Securities Course (CSC). He also holds a Certified International Trade Professional (CITP) designation.
Kristen Lépine Dos Santos (Administrator) +
Kristen brings wide-ranging expertise to the Peoples’ Food Institute. As Administrative Coordinator, her areas of responsibility span governance and policymaking, finance, operations support, communications, fundraising, and partnership relations. Kristen joined the Peoples Food Institute in July 2021 after four years of managing several associations in the capacity of Executive and Operations Director. She received a certification in Association Management with the Canadian Society of Association Executives. Kristen has over ten years of experience working in the food movement with gardens, composting, and environmental education and has joined PFI to align her values and passion with her experience.
Holy Solomon +
Holly Solomon is a lawyer with expertise in non-profit organization structure and charity law. She provides legal services to nonprofits throughout Ontario, and to charities and federally incorporated nonprofits throughout Canada. Solomon has served on several volunteer boards.
Gisèle Yasmeen +
Gisèle Yasmeen divides her time between Vancouver and Montréal, has 20 years of leadership experience in knowledge organizations having served as a not-for-profit and federal government executive including Vice-President of Research and Partnerships at the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council. Gisèle has also advised numerous organizations including the National Research Council, Asia Pacific Foundation of Canada, World Bank, the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization and the Laurier Centre for Sustainable Food Systems. She is currently the Executive Director of Food Secure Canada, as well as a member of the scientific committee of CityFood project at New York University and served on five boards of directors of not-for-profit organizations.
Cyra Yunkws +
Living as a settler in the traditional territories of the Sinixt, Ktunaxa, Syilx, and Secwepemc (also known as the Kootenays), Cyra and her family are immersed in growing as much food as possible. Her love of food and respect for the cultural significance of sharing food stems from her Gitxsan husband’s culture in northern BC, and the back-to-the-land approach of her own parents. This was followed by an apprenticeship on two organic farms on Vancouver Island, and a stint managing a communal garden in the Kootenays; both grounded her experience quite literally in the soil.
The following individuals contributed generous donations that supported the beginnings of the People’s Food Institute. We greatly value their support and deeply appreciate their respective contributions to advancing food sovereignty.
An anonymous donor contributed funds in memory of Cathleen Kneen for her commitment to building relationships with Indigenous communities, supporting Indigenous struggles, and learning from Indigenous ways of understanding food within 'all our relations'.
Dan Bender & Jo Sharma
John Murtaugh - Donation made in memory of Elizabeth Harris
If you like to make a donation to the People’s Food Institute, please see here