Our vision for Canada is … a nation committed to sustainable living and environmental stewardship. Since 2008, our school environmental club has planned an annual five-day Earth Week celebration to demonstrate our commitment to environmental stewardship and a sustainable lifestyle. The focus of the week is to encourage the members of our school community to reduce our collective ecological footprint. This year we searched for a more creative approach, something we had never done before, and our planning committee accepted the challenge of organizing a five-day VegFest for our staff and students.
Vegetarianism and veganism are on the rise within the youth population across our nation. Today’s youth hold making the conscious choice to adopt an alternative plant-based lifestyle, resulting in a lifelong impact on one’s ecological footprint, near and dear to their hearts. We were pumped! This was an ambitious undertaking, but we felt empowered and confident, we were ready to share our passion and enthusiasm with the members of our school community in our little corner of the Niagara Peninsula. Our goal for this project was to raise awareness of the impact of adopting a plant-based diet on the future of our planet … even if only one day a week.
E. L. Crossley’s inaugural VegFest ran this past spring from April 18th to April 22nd, 2016. The week’s events included: a Vegan Cooking class with a local natural chef, a screening of the documentary Cowspiracy, a Smoothie Day, Vegan Salad Bar Extravaganza, Cafeteria Games, and a Vendor Day. When the idea of hosting VegFest 2016 was first brought to the table, one BIG question surfaced … How would we pay for everything we wanted to do? Fortunately, there are numerous organizations that provide funding for schools to implement a host of student-led initiatives. VegFest 2016 became a reality with the generous support of the Metro Green Apple School Fund and SpeakUp You Are The Student Voice. With funding secured, we were off and running. An implementation plan was drafted which incorporated an educational component which served as the springboard for each of the week’s events.
As Earth Day 2016 approached, our ultimate goal was to run each event as smoothly as possible and we crossed our fingers hoping VegFest 2016 would be well received. The overwhelming response and positive feedback, along with the high level of student participation each day, were amazing. We blended 55 kg of fruit and served up over 400 smoothies … dished out over 225 plates of salad at our Vegan Salad Bar … and had students lining up before the bell to sample tasty treats from local vegan bakeries. We could not have been more pleased. To provide a quick snapshot we have included a short multimedia presentation we hope will help convey the energy and enthusiasm shared by everyone who participated.
The catalyst for our inaugural VegFest was our hardworking school environmental club, E.A.R.T.H. The VegFest 2016 steering committee was made up of fourteen dedicated students and their staff advisor. The students involved quickly broke into subcommittees based on their personal strengths and talents. The t-shirts produced were a student design, and served as walking billboards which circulated throughout our building during the weeks preceding VegFest 2016. Our fundraising committee learned the ins and outs of the grant proposal writing process. The Public Relations committee ensured everyone in our school community was aware of the week’s events and that they were invited to participate.