Concordia Student-Run Food Groups Research Project

Research Methods


The Concordia Student-Run Food Groups Research Project is a critical-action-research project. The goal of the project is to co-create a food sovereign campus at Concordia University.We are currently engaged in a needs and asset mapping project with the student-run food organizations on campus. We are meeting with the groups in the fall semester of 2018 and will provide the results and organize a public discussion in the winter 2019. We are also conducting a comprehensive survey of all the food service providers for universities across Canada. We suspect that Sodexo, Aramark, and Charwells have obtained most of the contracts, however there is no date available on the topic. We are also mapping the student-run initiatives in the universities across Canada. The results will be available in the winter 2019. If you are from a university in Canada and want to get involved, please contact us.

The project team produced an online archive (this site) of the student run food groups at Concordia University.  This provides a source of  institutional memory of the student-run food projects – past, present and future – on campus at Concordia University.

This archive is part of an ontological process and is in the state of perpetual change. ‘Results’ are posted on a regular basis – we make our video interviews available once they are edited, and we post other information when it becomes available to us. Student groups are not static entities, they change over time. Members come and go affecting the direction of the organizations internally (within themselves) and externally (in relation to other groups). New groups form and old groups sometimes cease their activities. In consequence, the landscape of food groups at Concordia changes over time as does the information on this archive.

The research project has three phases. We are in both phase two and three. We completed phase one.

1 – We gathered as much research as possible regarding food services at Concordia University; the student and administration run food services from as far back as we can find until we held the public discussion on March 22, 2017.

2 – Synthesize the information obtained during phase one.

3 – Perform other research projects that contribute to the development of a food sovereign campus at Concordia University.

Phase 1

Methods of Gathering Information

We are currently in phase two of the project. Phase 1 was completed on March 22, 2017. We  employed four methods of gathering information:

1 – We conducted video interviews with participants who have been involved, and/or continue to be part of the ‘food movement’ at Concordia University. This included founders of student run food groups, students who played instrumental political roles (in unions, on various university committees), members of the  administration, and professors from/at Concordia as well as a variety of other important people involved in this movement. We also obtained interviews with members of the community to discuss how the student run food projects provide value to the neighbourhoods surrounding Concordia. In addition, we obtained interviews from professors and researchers about food topics that relate to their research, teachings and/or publications.

2 – We gathered news articles that were written about the student-run food groups and food services at Concordia in the student newspapers (The Link and The Concordian) as well as the Concordia Archive Department. We also gathered information from external news sources.

3 – We gathered information about the student-run food groups and Concordia’s food services in other media forms. We collected a variety of videos, papers written by former students, and old interviews in raw format, among others.

We post information and video interviews once they are edited/obtained. Visit our site regularly, we frequently have new information available.

If you have any information to contribute, please let us know!

Phase 2

Synthesizing the Information Editing the Feature Length Documentary

Phase two began in the summer of 2016.  The research team is analyzing the information obtained in phase one in order to create:

1 -Maps of the student-run food system at Concordia University. We have completed these maps and made them available here.

2 – A public discussion about the results of phase one of the project. The discussion was held on March 22nd, 2017.

3 – A complete timeline of the food services at Concordia; student run and administrative food services.

4 – A feature length documentary movie about Concordia’s food groups. The documentary will address aspects of the food system at Concordia including the history of the food movement, critique of the multinational food system, and ideas as to how we can build an ideal food system, success and failures of the student-run organizations, how pedagogical models have contributed to the development of the food system at Concordia. Since 2014, we have been capturing the day to day interactions of a variety of people from these organizations. These moments help illustrate how these groups work, internally.

5 – An interactive organizational map of the food services at Concordia. We have begin preliminary work on this project already.

6 – Recommendations for action! We hope that what is learned from this project will help Concordia University, other schools, communities and institutions develop and implement better food practices.

Phase 3

We are currently mapping the needs and assets of the student-run food organizations at Concordia to encourage collaboration, resource sharing to build strong networks and resiliency. We are meeting with the food groups in the fall of 2018 and will provide the results and organize a public discussion in the winter of 2019.

We are also conducting a comprehensive survey of the food service providers and student-run food organizations in Canadian universities. We will make the results available in the winter of 2019.

In advocating for a food sovereign camps, we encourage students and professors to create and manage their own autonomous (from the major food service corporations, Sodexo, Chartwells and Aramrak) food system on campus.