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UBC Theses and Dissertations

Growing the seeds of transition : the role of school food networks in scaling school food initiatives towards systems change in the Vancouver School Board Mansfield, Brent


School food systems are significant contributors to the overall impact of humans on the planet, influencing both what students learn about food and their cumulative effects on the food systems in which they are nested. Students are influenced both by what is formally taught and by how food is experienced throughout the school day. The food procurement practices of schools and the diets that are promoted can have a large impact on the shape of food systems. Increasingly actors involved in school food systems are raising questions about the sustainability and quality of health promotion in school food systems. School food gardens and farm to school programs are two initiatives that have been undertaken with the aim to get more healthy, local and sustainable food into the minds and onto the plates of students. This qualitative case study explores the impact school food networks had on the policies and practices of the school food systems within the Vancouver School Board. The three overlapping school food networks examined in the case were Think&EatGreen@School, Farm to School Greater Vancouver and the Vancouver School Food Network, which were involved seeding and growing school food garden and farm to school initiatives in the Vancouver School Board between 2010 and 2014. These school food networks in Vancouver played an important role in supporting the development of innovative school food initiatives at the school level between 2010 and 2014, effectively supporting ‘niche’ development. School food networks facilitated niche development at school level by supporting the creation of innovative models, building the capacity of teachers and school communities through professional development and providing logistical support. When looking at broader institutional rules and practices at the school district and higher levels, impacts at the regime level were much more limited.

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