By Lorraine Chan

Located in the basement of the Student Union Building, Sprouts is a student-run café and store that promotes food security along with local, sustainable and healthy food options. Foulkes got involved right away when she came to UBC in 2008, and for the past three years has served on the Sprouts executive board, working closely with 70-plus volunteers.

Every Friday, Sprouts puts on “Community Eats.” The by-donation lunch attracts close to 400 diners, eager for the wholesome soups, stews and other welcomed alternatives to the student mainstays of pizza and subway sandwiches.

Graduating with a bachelor’s degree in nutritional sciences from the Faculty of Land and Food Systems (LFS), Foulkes explains her commitment to Sprouts and similar projects. “Food is one of the universal things that has the capacity to bring people together.”

This was especially true at a Downtown Eastside Neighbourhood House, a non-profit society on East Hastings Street, where Foulkes completed a fourth-year LFS internship. She liked the approach of serving visitors high quality foods packed with nutrition. To eliminate long line ups, the meals were self serve, which also allowed guests to make their own food selections.

Foulkes observes, “Often, there’s an attitude that we can feed vulnerable populations the stuff that no one else wants, like day-old bread or pasta past its expiry date, mixed with cheap, bottled sauce. But vulnerable populations need foods of higher nutrient density than you or I, not less.”

With new horizons beckoning, Foulkes says she would like to live abroad. During 2006, the Chilliwack native spent a year in Saraburi, Thailand while attending first-year university at a small college.
“That experience opened my eyes to how life and humanity are so much bigger than one culture, and how important it is to keep exploring and expanding.”

To challenge herself, Foulkes has also trained and volunteers as a “doula,” whose role is provide physical, emotional and informational support for women through pregnancy and birthing.

“It’s been a huge growth experience and as a result of working with single mums, I’m interested in seeing more accessible and woman-centred healthcare,” says Foulkes. Next phase of the journey: she plans to pursue a master’s degree in international public health.