About US

apples in a barrel

people sharing eggplants in garden

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 are intertwined, and nowhere is this more obvious than in food systems. The People’s Food Institute understands that our future health and nutrition depend 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 every day. 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

Board Members

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 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. 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.

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.

Janet Dean   +

image of Janet Dean

Janet Dean is the ED of the NWT Agri-food Association, working to build a sector that is sustainable and demonstrates great environmental stewardship while acknowledging and responding to the reality that agriculture in the Northwest Territories has a solely colonial history and has both a role in and a responsibility for, food security and sovereignty.

Janet sits on the board of Food Secure Canada (a sister organization to PFI) and has a unique combination of education and experience in business and psychology and food production and retailing. Social activism runs in her veins.

Hina Yousuf   +

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. Hina has volunteered in various initiatives and believes in making a difference and contributing to society. She has volunteered in soup kitchens, working with People-to-People organizations, food banks, and city festivals, mentoring, and working with special needs children, and coordinating after-school programs for children. 

Nicole Lamy +

Learning and sharing about food traditions has been an important part of exploring Nicole’s Indigenous identity and a way of connecting with her ancestors. She is a proud Indigenous woman from Treaty One Territory, where she lives with her dog Penelope and cares for her younger cousin Joshua. Her Mamere is a Michif woman from St.Laurent, Manitoba and Granny was a First Nation woman of Anishinaabe-Saulteaux roots from Crane River, Manitoba also known as O-Chi-Chak-ko-sipi First Nation. Growing up she spent a lot of time out on the land playing with her cousins, listening to fiddle tunes and swimming at Sand Piper Beach. 

Nicole’s career has focused on the Indigenous Food Movement working alongside Indigenous communities in Northern Manitoba and Nations across Canada. She has a Bachelor of Arts Degree in Urban and Inner City studies from the University of Winnipeg which fuelled her passion for community development and Indigenous rights.  As a long-time Helper to the Northern Manitoba Food Culture and Community Collaborative, Nicole brings a deep understanding of the importance of building reciprocal relationships and a passion for collaboration. Through work with the People’s Food Institute Nicole hopes to continue amplifying Indigenous voices, creating spaces to learn from one another and take down barriers in the philanthropic sector to better support communities.

Joshua Smee +

Joshua Smee is the CEO of Food First NL, a provincial nonprofit organization that works with communities across Newfoundland & Labrador to advance the right to food and to further their vision of a province where everyone can eat with joy and dignity. Passionate about systems change and the power of collective action, Joshua has taken a lead role in many coalitions and campaigns. He co-chairs the provincial Food Security Working Group with the Government of NL, is a lead organizer of Basic Income NL, and sat on the province's Health Accord Task Force. Outside of work, Joshua sits on many boards and committees and has been heavily engaged in work around civic engagement, local food, and the arts.


Kristen Lépine Dos Santos (Director of Operations)   +

Kristen brings wide-ranging expertise to the Peoples’ Food Institute. Her areas of responsibility span governance and policymaking, finance, operations support, communications, fundraising, and partnership relations. She joined the People's Food Institute in July 2021 after four years of managing several associations in the capacity of Executive Director. She received a certification in Association Management from the Canadian Society of Association Executives. Kristen has over ten years of experience working in the food movement with teaching, gardens, composting, and environmental education and has joined PFI to align her values and passion with her experience.

Special Advisors

Holly 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.

Founder Circle

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

Eleanor Boyle

Gisèle Yasmeen

John Murtaugh - Donation made in memory of Elizabeth Harris

Lauren Baker

Mustafa Koc

Suzanne Crocker


If you like to make a donation to the People’s Food Institute, please see here