SDG 2 - Zero Hunger

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Food Initiatives on campus

We have a range of food initiatives for students and staff on-campus. Some examples of the on-campus food initiatives include:

  • Community Gardens, which is our flagship food initiative growing sustainable food, provides students and staff an opportunity to belong to a community of people who care about eating local, organic food and learning how to grow it
  • Research into mapping the UC Food System, which identifies flows of café food and highlights food security issues. Green space, which could be used to enhance aesthetics and increase food grown on campus, is also mapped
  • Organic waste is collected across the whole of campus and sent to a local composting facility, which in turn sells the compost to local gardeners

Global contest to solve world hunger

Engineering student, Stephanie Post, was selected in the Team Universities of New Zealand to compete in a Global Case Competition in 2021. The focus of the competition was on the United Nations’ work to transform the way the world produces and consumes food. Stephanie says: “It is an honour to represent Aotearoa New Zealand, and it is exciting to work in an area that is so important to the world.” Teams are given 24 hours to prepare and present their proposal online to a panel of judges based in Norway. Chef de Mission Dr John Guthrie said it is an exciting opportunity for students to compete against the best universities in the world in an online environment. “This is a truly unique chance for the teams of students to provide input for and influence the efforts of the United Nations to address the food distribution and consumption problems,” he said.

Our Procurement

Strategic principles that guide the planning, sourcing and management of our procurement policy include: long term environmental initiatives that improve Canterbury’s ecological environment; contributing towards our carbon net neutral 2030 initiative; minimising waste; protecting human health and enhance environmental quality and safety; engaging with suppliers that promote socially responsible practices (diversity, acceptance, fairness and inclusiveness); products that are being sourced in a responsible and sustainable way; and supporting and fostering businesses that are owned and operated by Māori and Pacific communities and organisations.

Food safety breakthrough

Dairy factories could be the big winners from a new electromagnetic detection and imaging method aimed at boosting food safety systems. At our Electric Power Engineering Centre research on a Joule heating technique for logs also paved the way to improved imaging technology with wider applications. By passing electricity from one electrode through a piece of wood to a segmented electrode array, researchers were able to produce images showing the internal structures of wood, and now this same technology is being investigated for the food industry. “This is one half of the story on this new electromagnetic tomography method we now hope to develop for food safety and quality applications,” says Senior Research Engineer Dr Bill Heffernan. The goal is to develop this innovative new method so it can reliably determine the electrical conductivity distribution of food mixtures – such as milk - moving through a processing line. Food quality and safety is pivotal to New Zealand’s reputation as a trusted exporter of value-added, processed food products.

Our Community Gardens

UC’s community campus gardens form almost 30 in Christchurch. Established in 2002, Okeover Garden was named after the stream that meanders through our Ilam campus. It uses permaculture and organic growing methods. In 2018, Ngāi Tahu gifted the name Te Ngaki o Waiutuutu. On our Dovedale campus the garden was established in 2011 and is community-led. It offers private and shared allotments. Using UC land for gardening has many benefits. It allows staff and students to use their knowledge to influence campus design and policy, work together to grow fresh, organic produce, and promotes physical activity. Importantly, the gardens teach our students sustainable food gardening, and provides them with healthy and free produce. 

Food Foraging Virtual Map

Our Sustainability Office and Geospatial Research Institute partnered to create a virtual story map of UC’s food foraging locations, highlighting the campus’s edible flora and community gardens. Everyone at UC can help themselves to various fruits available on campus, including peaches, berries, apricots, figs, feijoas, and much more.

New School Focuses on Food Sustainability

In November 2020 we announced the launch of a new postgraduate school focusing on food sustainability – Food Transitions 2050. Dedicated to supporting regional, national and international food systems, it is the result of a multilateral partnership between UC, Lincoln University, Plant & Food Research, Manaaki Whenua Landcare Research, and AgResearch. Its core purpose is to support the transition to more future-focused, sustainable food systems and preparation, and it will focus on solution-based outputs intended to complement the range of existing food innovation initiatives in Aotearoa. Foundational students are already applying to the School, attracted by the transdisciplinary and Matauranga Māori research (co-designed with mana whenua) spanning food and future landscapes, food for a carbon-zero future, food consumer transitions and food governance.

Study on Australasian food banks

A study of Australasian food banks on how they are coping with growing demand in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic is being led by UC researchers. The aim is to find out more about the economic and social impacts of the virus to determine the best policies for addressing growing food security issues in times of crisis. “Since the COVID-19 pandemic, the demand for supplies from food banks has increased exponentially,” says lead researcher Dr Rosemarie Martin, who specialises in food, policy and well-being for UC’s Macmillan Brown Centre for Pacific Studies. “We hope the results of this research will be used by Government agencies to contribute to more equitable and effective food policy as a matter of urgency. There is a real need to do something to address inequalities around food security in New Zealand,” Dr Martin says.