Student project has healthy eating in the bag

The Meals in a Bag program could soon grow to extend beyond campus, organizers say

Students can fill their reusable bags with produce for $1 off the original $10 fee.
Students can fill their reusable bags with produce for $1 off the original $10 fee.
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Four health studies students are putting their knowledge to practice with a new project which aims to make healthy eating as easy as stopping by the JDUC.

Bronwyn Corrigan, Jesse Cranin, Marin MacLeod and Aiden Dorosz, all ArtSci ’13, created the Meals in a Bag program, which hopes to promote sustainable eating habits.

The idea for the program came from MacLeod and Corrigan’s time on exchange in Aberdeen, Scotland, where they saw bags of vegetables for sale from the community garden for about 10 pounds a bag.

“We decided to take it one step further and include a recipe for the vegetables,” Corrigan said.

The students are partnering with Baycrest Farm, who will sell the bags of produce for $10 at the weekly Farmer’s Market on campus.

The produce varies with season and availability from the farm.

“Right now it’s mostly root vegetables because its [winter], but in the upcoming months we’re hoping for more fresh vegetables and fruits,” Cranin said.

Each purchase comes with a reusable bag and two vegetarian recipes designed around the vegetables in the bag. Students who bring the bag back for repurchase receive $1 off the price. The program is non-profit, and all proceeds from sales go back to Baycrest. The bags contain $12 worth of produce, but Baycrest can make a profit if enough are sold.

Meals in a Bag was created for a project in HLTH 415 class, Program Design and Evaluation. In the class, groups of four or five students are partnered with a local Kingston organization to implement a community program.

The foursome are in a group together and work with Sustainability Kingston.

“Sustainability Kingston was very open about what kind of program we could implement,” Corrigan said. “And they have been extremely supportive of [Meals in a Bag], especially in terms of promotion and publicity.”

The recipes are created by MacLeod in conjunction with Clay MacLeod of Baycrest. They come with suggestions for integrating meat into the dish as well. The team estimates that each bag will make about three to four servings of food.

Sustainability Kingston isn’t the only group to support the project, organizers said.

“We are very thankful to the AMS, who gave us a grant from their Sustainability Fund,” Cranin said. “That helps cover all of our promotion costs.”

The team is now working with Sustainability Kingston to create a transition manual. They hope to include instructions on how businesses and farmers can implement a similar program for their products.

“Our program is very flexible and scalable,” Cranin said, “You can even apply it it to other things like baked goods instead of just vegetables.”

He added that the initiative has received interest from Kingston’s Empire Life Insurance, which could lead to the possibility of serving business customers as well.

“[Meals in a Bag is] just a great culmination of our four years at Queen’s,” Corrigan said. “We’re applying everything we’ve learned in class, in our major, into the real world.”

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