by julia.hanigsberg | March 26th, 2014
One year ago, I first met Joshna Maharaj. Today she is Ryerson’s Executive Chef and Assistant Director of Food Services. Back then I knew of her as a local food advocate and someone who was working on hospital food reform. Joshna and I originally connected on Twitter and followed up with a meeting in my office. By the end of that first meeting, I knew I’d found the perfect “partner in crime” to create a revolution in food at Ryerson.
From that moment on, Ryerson’s journey to a university where food matters went from a small question (can we make food on campus less expensive and taste better?), to a great idea (can we embrace a politics of food that is not only about great taste and accessibility but also about local production and sustainable sourcing) to execution on a plan that is nurturing the Ryerson community every day.
Working closely with students, faculty, Rye’s HomeGrown, the Centre for Studies in Food Security, University Business Services, the phenomenal Food Services team, Ryerson’s OPSEU leadership and Chartwells (our food management company), Joshna has built Ryerson Eats: a healthy, sustainable food program across campus. Food that is delicious, healthy and sustainable? What a People First way to solve a problem. What a Ryerson way to create an opportunity. What a city-building change making approach to a university service.
The new Ryerson Eats is still in its early days and there is much more to come. But our successes to date are a reminder to me of an expression I first heard used by the late David Pecault: the strength of weak ties–how the connections we make with people can end up propelling us to make changes in our organizations and our world… in this case one cup of soup at a time.