The UBC campus food system consists of 96 campus food outlets, 5 grocery stores, 15 food production sites (including UBC Farm, and 14 community and academic gardens), and 4 Community-Supported Agriculture (CSA) programs.   

The campus food system is a cyclical one which includes raising food on campus, food prepared and eaten on campus, and the collection and recycling of food scraps and food container waste. For example - UBC Farm raises produce that makes it way into the menus we enjoy at AMS and UBC Food Services food outlets. Many people purchase food at these outlets using their reusable to-go containers or containers that can be placed in sorting stations to be composted or recycled. Food scraps from food outlets are collected at sorting stations across campus and sent to the in-vessel composter on South Campus. This compost is used in gardens and landscaping projects across campus and the circle continues again.

Learn more about the campus food system by browsing the UBC Food Asset Map for the Vancouver campus below. Find out more information about the research behind this map and access the full database of assets here.

The UBC Food System Project (UBCFSP)  is a collaborative, cross-campus initiative that brings together partners in academics, operations, and research to further advance UBC’s food sustainability initiatives and food systems. It was initiated jointly by the UBC SEEDS Program and the UBC Faculty of Land and Food Systems. Since 2001, the project has engaged over 1,900 students, campus food representatives and faculty members in 250 projects across 30 courses to enhance the sustainability of the campus food system.

The UBCFSP works collectively with core campus food system representatives to assess the sustainability of the system and to respond to barriers and opportunities while transitioning toward food system sustainability. To learn more about the history of the UBCFSP, please refer to this journal publication.

Read below for more information about the Project.

Project goals

1) To move the UBC campus food system towards sustainability, by:

  • Facilitating a shared vision of a sustainable food system among project partners
  • Coordinating project partners and other key campus food systems stakeholders in their efforts to improve the campus food system
  • Creating Campus as a Living Lab projects as a vehicle to address opportunities to improve the UBC food system

2) To positively impact the movement towards the sustainability of the larger BC, Canadian, North American and global food systems, by:

  • Leading as a model for best practices for sustainable food systems
  • Using UBC’s leverage to influence the supply chain and broader sustainability practices

3) To offer students hands-on learning opportunities in a multi-disciplinary project with potential for positive impact on ecological and human health

Project committee

UBCFSP committee members convene annually at a workshop to share successes, challenges and to identify food action priorities for the upcoming year. The top priority areas identified for the 2017-18 academic year include

  1. Plant Forward Offerings and Climate Action
  2. Food Waste and Contamination
  3. Packaging, and Single-Use Item Reduction
  4. Food Knowledge and Food Skills
  5. Food Insecurity
  6. Healthy Beverages and Water
  7. Biodiversity
  8. Resilient Food Production

UBCFSP committee members will take both individual and collective actions toward these priority areas, supported by research through the UBC SEEDS Sustainability Program. A summary of the workshop and actions for the coming year can be found in the 2018-19 workshop summary report.

Framework for Food Action

The Framework for Food Action was developed by the UBCFSP Committee in 2012 as a way to organize and prioritize actions to advance the sustainability of UBC’s food system. The document is updated at the UBCFSP annual workshop. The most recent version, updated in July 2018, can be found here.

Project outcomes and reports

In 2004, UBC Food System Project partners created a vision statement listing the attributes and guiding principles of a sustainable campus food system. Project partners and students are invited annually to reflect on the vision and propose additions or changes—allowing the vision to evolve with the project.

Notable achievements of the project in recent years include:

  • The establishment of a food recovery partnership between UBC Food Services and the AMS Foodbank in 2017, which is helping to increase food security on campus while keeping food out of the waste stream
  • The addition of two new student gardens on campus, including Roots on the Roof at the AMS Nest in 2015 and Agronomy Garden in 2017
  • The development of a UBC Farm to institution partnership
  • Guidelines for developing campus food gardens  were established in 2011-12
  • Students informed food policy development with the AMS Lighter Footprint Strategy in 2007-2008
  • Student research from 2014-2016 led to the development of the UBC Food Service Ware Procurement Guidelines which are helping to increase waste diversion rates across campus
  • Real Food Challenge Canada partnership formed in 2016
  • A series of projects was launched to increase the sustainability of the Special Olympics Canada 2014 Summer Games. This led to the first-ever bottled-water free Games, first Games-wide Composting Program, and creation of Sustainable Procurement and Waste Guidelines. Watch the video here 

Student reports
Student reports are publicly available in the UBC SEEDS Library. All UBC Food System Project reports can be found by searching for “food,” “health” or “waste” themes.

Annual summary reports
Annual summary reports from 2002-2012 are available on the UBC SEEDS Library: by searching “UBC Food System Project Annual Report”

Project partners

The UBCFSP involves multiple partners and collaborators across campus. Each year, these partners work with the UBC SEEDS Sustainability Program to identify how student groups can work with partners to improve the sustainability of the UBC Food System.

Project partners include:


For more information, or to get involved with the UBC Food System Project, please contact:

Liska Richer
Manager, UBC SEEDS Sustainability Program, Community Development
Campus + Community Planning