The Local Food Scene at Queen’s University


The Local Food Scene at Queen’s University

           As Queen’s University students looking for a sustainable way to eat healthy in our everyday lives, we decided to take our classroom assignment to the next level and identify problems that all students seem to have with accomplishing this goal. A lot of students identify issues of access as a barrier to purchasing local foods.1 There are several ways in which Queen’s students can access local food within walking distance; for example, services such as Wendy’s Mobile Market will deliver locally grown and produced goods straight to your home, which is certainly accessible! For students looking to pick up food on the way home, there’s Old Farm Fine Foods providing a great source of local meat and cheese, located a mere 5 minute walk away from the Queen’s Center on Barrie Street. The Farmer’s Market is re-occurring each semester at Queen’s, and is available on campus every Wednesday just outside of the John Deutsch University Centre. The market is especially great in giving allergen-sensitive students alternative food options through the provision of gluten-free and lactose-free products. Even Queen’s campus itself has jumped on the local food bandwagon in recent years and is continuously expanding its initiatives.

Queen’s Campus: For the Love of Food Campaign


The local food movement on Queen’s campus has drastically expanded in recent years. Queen’s University staff and students have worked diligently to improve on-campus access to locally produced goods, but there is still some room for improvement.


In a small scale anonymous survey among Queen’s University students, it was found that students are currently spending less than 25% of their food budget on local foods, and had specified issues of cost and accessibility as their biggest barriers to purchasing local foods.  There are several items which are more costly when purchased locally, however, the chart below is meant to serve as a demonstration that eating locally does not necessarily have to put a strain on a student’s budget.


Local (Kingston)*


Loaf of Bread (white)



Mushrooms (white)



Red onion



Yellow Peppers



Chicken Breast


Ranging from $19-$25/kg

Ground Beef



Pork Chop


$ 4.49/lb

* Recorded from foods available at the Farmer’s Market and the Grocery Checkout
* In addressing the issue of cost, the prices of several commonly purchased items are compared between locally-produced and imported products.

Queen’s students vary in their definition of ‘local food’. In this article, ‘local food’ is defined as foods grown or produced in Kingston and surrounding Frontenac, Lennox and Addington area.

The survey also indicated that perceived accessibility is an issue in the purchasing of local foods. Despite the fact that most students embrace the notion of purchasing local foods, students are looking for further information on where local food is sold. Many students are unwilling to find distributors that supply local food if it is inconvenient. To a certain degree, this problem has been aided by the Queen’s administration. Despite a limited budget, the Queen’s administration has shown an interest in increasing food availability to students and faculty on campus. Chef Michael Smith has been active in the Queen’s community since 2007, promoting and supervising local food event days in Ban Righ cafeteria. With the help of Smith, Queen’s made a recent 1.3 million investment towards provision of quality food services on campus with the restoration of the Mackintosh Corry Hall cafeteria. Smith has also overseen the integration of the Canadian Grilling Company into this restoration, as a means to offer more local food options to the Queen’s community. Sodexo opened “The Canadian Grilling Company by Chef Michael Smith” on January 12th, 2012, supporting an emphasis on local and organic ingredients.

    In addition to the Canadian Grilling Company, Queen’s University has recently made more changes to the face of its campus, the most substantial being the new grocery store located in the main level of the Queen’s Center, just across from the Athletics and Recreation Center. This is the “Grocery Checkout Fresh Market” which provides Queen’s staff and students with local products 7 days/week while offering a variety of products provided by local Kingston farmers and distributors such as Pig & Olive meat shop, and Farella’s Bakery. The Grocery Checkout Fresh Market provides clear, easy to read labels that include the name of product, price, and place of origin from which it was shipped. Despite this, ambiguities exist regarding where in ‘Ontario’ an apple, potato, or tomato has been shipped from - information that is important to students wishing to support the KFL&A farmers. However, Grocery Checkout is a great opportunity for local distributors to sell products, and for students to pick up healthy, fresh foods on their return home from campus.

Local food providers and members of the Queen’s University community are working together to expand local food availability on and around campus.  Sustainably increasing the purchasing power of students with local foods is becoming the norm, not the exception.  

Caroline Furrer, Jessica Ingram, Lindsay Bonnett, Rebecca Gibbons, Magdalena Stara



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