Simon Fraser University (SFU) and our Forward Food program hosted a summit that marked the official launch of SFU Roots, an initiative to foster a resilient food system by encouraging the integration of more local, plant-based and Indigenous foods into food service operations.

While there is a growing demand for more local, plant-rich foods, many food service professionals have not yet had the experience and training to support local, plant-forward food systems. By embracing local and plant-based choices, industry professionals can help to mitigate climate change and meet the evolving preferences of a conscientious consumer base.

The SFU and Forward Food Summit: Deepening Local Roots in Food Service (Plant-Based Edition) was for local leaders committed to a greener, healthier, and more equitable future. The summit attracted around 150 food service professionals for networking, knowledge exchange and skill development.

Forward Food chef Amy Symington prepares pancakes on the left. On the right, a display of breakfast dishes is shown.

“We are so excited to be working with Simon Fraser University to host this game-changing event,” said Riana Topan, senior manager for Forward Food. “The world is facing so many pressing problems connected to our food system, from the climate crisis and food insecurity to the rise in non-communicable diseases and the suffering of more than 92 billion land animals who are bred, kept and slaughtered for food annually. By shifting to more plant-forward menus, the food service industry has enormous potential to address many of these challenges and positively transform our food system. We are proud to be supporting SFU Roots in its goal to help B.C.’s food service operations introduce more sustainable, healthy and compassionate offerings.”

“The Roots Initiative and the Forward Food Summit both exemplify Simon Fraser University’s steadfast commitment to fostering a robust local food system in British Columbia,” said Sid Mehta, Senior Director of Ancillary Services at SFU. “These collaborative efforts are a key part of SFU’s climate action plan, to drive innovation and enhance food security. By equipping food service professionals with skills to integrate local and plant-based foods into their operations, we are not only nurturing a sustainable food system but also making strides towards a more prosperous and environmentally-responsible community.”

Industry leaders, chefs, cooks, directors, managers, dietitians and restaurateurs had the chance to connect, share insights and learn from leaders in their fields, fostering a community dedicated to advancing sustainable practices in the culinary world. This summit was designed to equip attendees with the knowledge and skills needed to seamlessly and successfully integrate plant-based foods into their menus.

Speakers at the summit were experts in multidisciplinary fields and shared their knowledge of the transformative power of plant-based foods. The event served as a platform for engaging discussions that will shape the future of sustainable dining and included topics such as environmental sustainability and culinary innovation, along with a trade-show featuring a dozen local industry innovators that showcased and sampled their cutting-edge plant-based products. The summit was preceded by an exclusive plant-based culinary training session for 22 local chefs on November 1.

This event was a unique opportunity for food service professionals to explore the latest trends in the industry, connect with peers and the food processing sector, and gain ideas for implementation in their workplaces.

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