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.
Billy Hewett, Treasurer
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.
Laura Neidhart, Secretary
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.
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.
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.
Monica Chappell (on leave until Fall 2019)
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.
Cynthia is originally from rural Saskatchewan but made the big move east and has called Ottawa home base for a good chunk of the last 20 years. Her current day job is parliamentary affairs advisor and she has previous experience in various nonprofits in communications and campaign roles. She is an obsessive traveller and in a military family both of which have provided lots of opportunities to visit some inspiring and some not so inspiring locales. She is always game to go visit any type of food producer and get her hands dirty and sample local specialties. She has visited and worked at sunflower harvesting in Ukraine, cocoa pod picking in Peru, picking apples at the Orleans Fruit Farm, picking saskatoons on the Meewasin trail, zataar foraging in Haifa, and lots in between. She is a dedicated local foods first type consumer and spends as much of the family food budget as possible at farms stands and local markets. She is currently making sure that her city raised kids have a foot in the field and are interested in and understand where their food comes from.
Ramsey is a federal public servant with experience in energy, environmental and agricultural policy and programs. He served on the board of directors of the Ecology Action Centre in Halifax in the past, and worked with the organization to promote sustainable production of and access to local food. He has a graduate degree in environmental studies and is skilled in writing, analysis, planning and program design. He shares his home garden with his wife and kids and loves experimenting with heirloom vegetable varieties from local seed banks.
Scott Warrick, C.C.C.
In 2009, Chef Warrick received Algonquin College’s highest annual honour for part-time faculty members… the Dianne Bloor Part-Time Faculty Award.
Outside of the College, Chef Warrick works as a Food Service Consultant and has in the past provided food stylist services to McCain International Foods, Loblaw’s & the LCBO. Chef Warrick was for many years Executive Chef and food consultant to Ottawa Bluesfest, Culinary Advisor for the Ottawa Wine & Food Show and was part of the City of Ottawa’s Street Food / Food Truck Selection Panel as well as sitting as a founding member of the Ottawa Food Policy Council.
Prior to working at the College, Chef Warrick worked as a Chef for the House of Commons in Ottawa, Canada. At the House of Commons Chef Warrick played an active role in all areas of food production and distribution.
Along with teaching culinary students in the full-time Culinary Arts program Chef Warrick also teaches both high school dual credit students and student apprentices participating in the Ontario Apprenticeship Program.
Chef Warrick is a member of the Canadian Culinary Federation of Chefs and Cooks (C.C.F.C.C.), a former longtime member of the local CCFCC Executive, a Red Seal Chef and holds his CCC designation (Canadian Culinary Certification).
Sheila Rao is an anthropologist and research consultant based in Ottawa. Her recent doctoral thesis examined nutritional health and agricultural development in Tanzania through a feminist political ecology lens. Prior to completing her doctorate, Sheila managed multi-country projects on strengthening farmers’ access to resources and radio communications in Sub-Saharan Africa with Farm Radio International, African Highlands Initiative and the World Agroforestry Centre. Before shifting to international work and moving to Ottawa, she coordinated community initiatives around urban food security and environmental management in Southern Ontario with the City of Toronto, and Green Venture based in Hamilton. She has a keen interest in supporting sustainable, locally-based food initiatives; and in finding creative ways of bringing diverse people around the table to share a meal and a conversation.
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.
Sun Shan, Community Gardening Network Coordinator
Sun Shan is a market gardener, fermentation enthusiast and educator, and a certified professional cultural and community interpreter. She started her career as a biomedical researcher. Later on, she joined the non-profit sector and for 15 years she worked on ecological conservation projects in western China and Tibet. For the past five years, she and her family farmed in different regions of Ontario, re-learned fermentation, and shared their fresh and fermented products and knowledge with many at farmers’ markets and through teaching and sharing. Sun Shan has a B.S. in Environmental Science and Ecology from Peking University, and a Master’s in Environmental Science and Public Policy from George Mason University. She lives in Ottawa with her partner and son. Sun Shan enjoys writing, cooking, loves nature, obsesses with identifying plants, and is immensely fascinated by the microbiome that makes up a good soil, resides in our gut, and turns milk and kombucha sour.