Just Food is a grassroots, non-profit organization that includes staff, volunteers, community partners, members and funders.
All projects are community-based. We seek direction from our broad community partners. We solicit feedback through our project advisory/ steering committees and through the monthly newsletter. All members are invited to meet formally once a year and provide feedback into the work of Just Food. Overall direction comes from the Board, with staff input.
Just Food engages in food policy conversations at many levels. Just Food is a member of Food Secure Canada and Sustain Ontario. We also provide strategic and logistical support to the Ottawa Food Policy Council.
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Jennifer Emmans, Chair
Jenny is a lawyer in Ottawa and runs her own law firm. She practices mainly in employment and human rights law for corporate and not-for-profit clients. Prior to law school, Jenny pursued studies in biological and cultural anthropology.
Jenny has a longstanding passion for local and sustainable farming, local food, and the ethical treatment of animals. She is an avid supporter of local food initiatives. She has volunteered for animal rights organizations, Pro Bono Law Ontario, and often participates as an ad-hoc volunteer for various initiatives in Ottawa.
Cynthia is a native of Vancouver, B. C. After spending more than a decade in Alberta’s Rocky Mountains working in the tourism industry, and several years as a student in Ottawa, she settled in the Gatineau Hills of Quebec. After graduating with an MA in Human Geography from Carleton University, Cynthia spent two years as a research analyst for an environmental consulting firm. For the past fifteen years she has been self-employed, taking on a variety of projects and work. For the Heritage Canada Foundation (HCF), the national voice for advocacy in built heritage preservation, Cynthia wrote three major research reports. She is currently the Quebec Farmers’ Association food writer, exploring recipes as well as food and agriculture issues in a monthly column. In 2013 she became involved in the Agriculture in the Classroom program, presenting a videoconference workshop, “Food and You”, to elementary students across Quebec. Since 2000, she has run a small catering business, using local and organic ingredients whenever possible.
Scott is the Director of Business Risk Management and Farm Policy for the Canadian Federation of Agriculture (CFA). His work involves providing policy analysis, strategic advice, as well as industry and government relations for the CFA and its board of directors. His work covers a wide range of agricultural issues, including risk management, labour, tax policy, and a broad focus on the viability of rural communities and Canadian farms, both large and small. In 2014, Scott completed a Masters of Applied Environmental Studies in Local Economic Development at the University of Waterloo, where his research focused on how civil society networks and local economic development officials can support the development of local food systems. He has experience in the academic, private and non-profit sectors. Notably, Scott researched and co-authored a research publication for the Economic Developers Council of Ontario titled ‘Taking Regional Action? Understanding networks in the local food, green energy, & creative sectors in Waterloo Region’ (2011-2012), provided policy analysis for the Waterloo Region Food System Roundtable (2011-2012), and has sat on the editorial board for the Toronto Youth Food Policy Council (2014-present).
Marissa is a policy analyst with experience in science and innovation policy and small business financing policy. Her food interests include food access, including urban and community gardening, local food production and distribution, healthy food, and food’s role in culture and community. In the past, Marissa served as Communications Director for the Grainery food co-op in Halifax, and was involved with student initiatives at university. Marissa holds graduate degrees in chemistry and public administration and her skills include writing and analysis, planning and coordination, and gardening. Marissa’s favourite local foods include tomatoes, strawberries, and beef. Marissa served as Just Food’s Treasurer from 2012-2014 and Secretary from 2014-2016.
Monica is an occasional French and Mathematics high school teacher with the OCDSB, giving some structure to an otherwise diverse array of field work with a focus on food and soil literacy for all ages. Monica worked as a Growing Up Organic facilitator and sits on the advisory committee, is an active Hidden Harvest neighbourhood leader and advisory committee member with a focus on finance and education, is an active distributor of food waste from local grocery stores to food agencies through Food Sharing Ottawa, and continues to work closely with Arc Acres during the growing season to support their holistic approach to food growing since completing a full-time internship in 2014.
Monica currently teaches organic master gardening courses through Canadian Organic Growers as a partnership with SOUL (the Society for Urban Organic Landcare) and Gaia College. She established a community partnership garden with Rideau High School and Wabano Community Centre for Health for the summer of 2016. Monica is also working her way through a diploma in organic landcare through a diverse array of water, soil, native plant, and indigenous microorganism courses through Soil Food Web and Gaia College. Having just left a position steering the first Poverty Challenge Ottawa, working with local organizations, the Education Foundation of Ottawa, and community members to highlight the array of challenges facing people living in poverty in our community, Monica understands and advocates for all areas of food from soil, to seed, to plant, to table, and back again — seeing food systems as a potential for establishing and sustaining healthy cycles and communities over finite input output systems — and aligning with core values of Just Food.
Over the past 12 years, Jessica has worked in communications for agricultural and development organizations at home and abroad. She has worked with the International Federation of Agricultural Producers, the Canadian Federation of Agriculture, National Food Strategy, and the Co-operative Development Foundation of Canada. Today, she runs her communications and marketing consulting business — LEAP PROJECTS — and recently completed her certification as a Registered Holistic Nutritionist from the Canadian School of Natural Nutrition. Whether it be promoting small-holder farmers’ interest or learning about nutrition, she has been a believer in and advocate for food accessibility and sustainability. These experiences have given her knowledge and perspective on several sides of the agriculture and food scene, but most importantly, an understanding of the immense impact food has on all areas of our lives and its potential to sustain our health, communities, and economies.
Billy is Senior Advisor to the President & CEO of Destination Canada, a crown corporation that works collaboratively with public and private sector partners to promote and sustain the vibrancy of Canada’s tourism economy from coast to coast to coast. Canada is rightly proud of its thriving cities on the edge of nature, and Ottawa is no exception. Every visitor to our region gets but a small taste of what we as locals get to experience every day, and that includes our culinary culture. With a long history in agriculture, Billy is keen that the connections across our urban and rural communities are reinforced with a dynamic and appropriately localized food and agriculture system.
Billy’s agricultural roots run deep. Originally from the prairies, he is an Ontario Agricultural College graduate with 30 years of professional experience in the federal government — 20 as an executive — working nationally and internationally on agriculture, food, science and tourism policy, program and regulatory matters. His current preoccupations include finding ways to support and learn from those who are engaged at the grass roots in building awareness and proactively encouraging a positive relationship between our health and wellbeing, the food we eat, how and where it is produced and processed, as well as the related dynamics necessary to sustain a strong and resilient agriculture and food ecosystem.
Amrit is a retired elementary school teacher and has a masters degree in English, a BA in education, as well as Early Childhood Education. She has always been interested in health, justice and anti-racism issues. During her working years, she was part of the OCDSB’s Anti-racism committee. The committee worked with the community members to discuss the needs and issues of the diverse student population and write the Anti-racism policy.
Amrit has always been interested in food from health and nutrition perspective. Nearly twenty years ago, she and her family became members of OOFA, an organic food cooperative that worked to support the local organic farmers and, to make the organic food more accessible to it’s members. She also started her own vegetable garden which now produces more than 50% of her family’s vegetable needs. About eight years ago, she joined a local food group and then formed her own Sustainable Living Group with members from the neighbourhood.
She has done extensive reading on organic gardening, permaculture and other food growing and accessibility issues. She was involved in door to door fundraising for the Heart and Stroke Foundation and Kidney Foundation for over thirty years and worked as area coordinator for a few years.
Amrit fully supports the Just Food values and is looking forward to promoting these values as a volunteer board member.
Laura Neidhart is a communications and development professional in the charitable sector, working on systemic social change. In her current role at Canada Without Poverty, an economic and social rights anti-poverty organization, she works to contribute to policy development affecting a cross-section of issues like the right to housing and right to food. Prior to moving to Ottawa, she worked on a number of economic and social justice projects, including housing and domestic violence projects in the United States and on prison reform campaigns in the United Kingdom. Before transitioning to the charitable sector, she attended culinary school and worked in the hospitality industry. Laura keeps ties with this part of her life through her love of local food, cooking, and gardening and previously served on the board of a social enterprise which supports immigrant and refugee women to transition into catering and restaurant careers.
Moe has been working on food and farming issues in Ottawa since 1995. Focused on community development and community economic development approaches, she has facilitated the establishment of many ongoing community and regional food initiatives in Ottawa, (including Just Food) while supporting provincial and national food initiatives. Since 2004, she has been the Executive Director of Just Food, working with teams to integrate food access and food localism within the mixed urban and rural settings of the Ottawa region.
Born and raised on a dairy farm in Ottawa, Phil pursued an interdisciplinary education that included law, sociology, silviculture, graphic design, farming, political economy, and web marketing. After doctoral studies which focused on the challenges involved with the transition to sustainable regional food systems, Phil has served for years as Associate Researcher at the Centre for Sustainable Food Systems, and Associate Editor at Canadian Food Studies. Phil is the principal investigator of Shared Opportunities on Institutional Lands (projectsoil.ca), exploring the intersections of food production, health and education. Phil now also toils in the fields of Just Food, as Associate Director, and on the board of Sustain Ontario, as well as on Flat Earth Farm, with his wife Denise.
Christine has been on the Just Food team since 2016 as the Administrative and Finance Coordinator and is excited in taking on a new role as the Programs Coordinator in 2019. She has a degree in Conflict Studies and Human Rights, with additional training as a Third Party Neutral from the Canadian Institute of Conflict Resolution. She hopes that she can use her facilitation and program skills in supporting the success of community programs at Just Food. Currently, her personal interests focus on the intersection of sustainability, food security, and housing.