Member Profiles

OUR TEAM

Meet the dedicated personnel who make up the Middlesex-London Food Policy Council. The Middlesex London Food Policy Council has a maximum of 20 members who represent both the county, city and partnering Indigenous Nations. Members must live or work in London or Middlesex County. Membership reflects diverse interests from across the entire food system, ideally with representation from each of the key sectors in the food system.

THE EXECUTIVES

Benjamin Hill

chair

Research

Benjamin is a member of the Rotman Institute of Philosophy, which is dedicated to interdisciplinary explorations of the boundaries between science and philosophy. The issues facing our industrialized food system sprawl across that border and are best conceptualized and addressed from that interdisciplinary perspective.

In addition to the typical experiences and skills associated with an academic research and philosophical background, Benjamin bring skills in grant writing and editing.


“Middlesex-London is my home and the home of my children. I am concerned about the future of communities and the people who compose them, Middlesex-London most of all. A robust and flourishing local food system is a pillar of a vibrant community.”

Paul Seale

Vice-Chair

Food Service

“As a manager of the Old East Village Grocer I work on the front lines of food retailing, preparation, supply, access, and recovery.”

“A community-builder by vocation and a Masters of Communication, I have excellent oral, written, and social media skills that I have put to use for a number of organizations and causes including the OEVG, the New School of Colour, and the Old East Village Community Association.”

“I feel it is urgent to repair our food system to enable good access to good food for all. The MLFPC has such a mandate and, with the support of my employers, I also believe that I can help to pilot or model sustainable programs to improve food access.”

Thomas Sumpter

Treasury

Economic Development

Thomas Sumpter is a Commercial & Agricultural Account Manager with Libro Credit Union. Thomas began working at Libro Credit Union after graduating from Kings University College in 2018, with a degree in Business Management and Organization Studies  specialization in Global Commerce, and a Minor is Psychology. Thomas is a driven individual who is passionate about growing prosperity in South Western Ontario.  

Growing up in a rural town outside of London, Thomas developed an early understanding that building relationships is a key component to interacting with the local community. In his professional career, building relationships is the cornerstone of creating mutually beneficial business solutions. Thomas is looking forward to working on the MLFPC to build relationships, achieve sustainability, and encourage communication around food policies in regard to rural and urban agriculture.    

Lella Blumer

secretary

Urban Agriculture

Born and raised in London, I was draw to the prairies after university and Edmonton became home for my family for 26 years before I returned to London in 2015. In my professional and volunteer lives I’ve been an advocate, facilitator, reseacher, writer, and lifelong learner. I’m happiest when I’m outside, preferably with my hands in the dirt, and everything I know about sustainable backyard farming comes from my parents, who brought that knowledge with them to Canada. I believe that access to nutritious food and clean water is the primary issue facing humanity, and that we need to find common ground (so to speak) as we meet that challenge. 

MEMBERS

Gregg Barrett

City of London

City Planning was responsible for the development and adoption of the City’s Urban Agriculture Strategy, and provides on-going Staff support to the Urban Agriculture Steering Committee.

More than 1/3 of the City of London’s land area is designated as Farmland in the City’s Official Plan. Policies of the Plan support the on-going use of these lands for agricultural uses, and direct urban growth to areas within the Urban Growth Boundary as a means of preserving agricultural lands.

“I am the Manager, Long Range Planning and Sustainability for the City of London. In my role, I direct professional planning staff on matters related to planning policy, including the development and maintenance of the City’s Official Plan, and planning studies to address emerging local and provincial planning matters.  As a result of a recent restructuring, our Service Area will also be responsible for the development and implementation of sustainability and resiliency policies and initiatives for the City.”

Colleen Crunican

Community Member- Rural

Colleen is currently working as a Research Associate at BASF Canada and will be attending Western University in the fall for Teacher’s College. She previously attended the University of Guelph, where she obtained a Bachelor of Science in Agriculture. Colleen has been surrounded by agriculture her whole life, having grown up on her family’s apple orchard and working at neighbouring farms. She has travelled to countries such as Kenya and Costa Rica on mission trips and field courses learning about global food production and food security issues. Colleen is excited to work with the MLFPC and to be more involved in her local food system. She hopes to work towards increasing the communication between community members and farmers to enhance the overall food literacy in this region. 

 

Shauna Kechego-Nichols

Indigenous

“My name is Shauna Kechego-Nichols, I am Ojibwe from Chippewas of the Thames First Nation. I grew up in Toronto and moved to Chippewa of the Thames in my early teens to be with the Indigenous people of this area. Here is where I encountered culture, belonging, and survival among a group of people who are both resilient and empowering. Their strength and endurance makes me proud to be Anishinabe Kwe.

Close to my heart is the love for education. I believe that life-long learning is essential to thriving in this ever-evolving world. Currently, I have diplomas and a degree in the following:
Broadcasting Television (2005), Advanced Filmmaking (2007), Social Service Worker (2010), Indigenous Healing Practices (2010), and a Bachelor of Arts Degree in Sociocultural Anthropology (2018) from Western University.”

 

Jana Keller

Agriculture Urban

“I own a small business called Beautiful Edibles. We work locally, at ground-level serving and mentoring urban community members wishing to build knowledge about growing our own food anywhere, from home to small big and institutions using Urban Agriculture to grow the passion for personal and environmental resilience by working with people. Much of what we do is social enterprise. We focus on urban-based grass roots food prosperity and its literacy.”

“As a health researcher, my behaviour defaults to systematic enquiry, and critical thinking to assure we do and speak from an evidence informed perspective whether it be policy recommendations, or pragmatic outcome evaluations such as our community’s quality of life. I joined MLFPC to contribute to an effective functional change toward a healthier, more integrated community based, local food system across Middlesex London”

Nancy Kerr

Food Access

Nancy Kerr has served as the Program Services Manager for The Salvation Army Community and Family Services in London Ontario since 2014. Nancy has over 30 years’ experience in the non-profit sector and joined The Salvation Army Centre of Hope team in 2004, eventually serving as the Human Resources Director prior to commencing her current position. Nancy oversees a multi-service program that includes an emergency “choice model” food bank, recreational programs and healthy living/cooking workshops for low income Londoners. A large part of her role is assessing the changing needs of our community and developing holistic programs to meet those needs and engage the participants in unique and empowering ways. 

Nancy’s most recent accomplishments include the development of a Community Teaching Garden that opened in 2016 and working collaboratively with the London Food Coalition to establish the fresh food hub at the Centre of Hope in October 2017.

Peggy O'Neil

Education

“I am a Lecturer and Adjunct Research Professor in Human Ecology at Brescia University College, Canada’s only women’s university. I teach undergraduate and graduate courses in food management and leadership.” “I was raised on a family farm in rural Ontario and have worked in the field of nutrition and foods for over thirty years. My position at the university enables me to compare my lived experience to historical and current research from across the world. My research skills, scholarly network and broad experience will benefit my work with the MLFPC.” “I am a Professional Home Economist, registered in the province of Ontario as well as a member of the International Federation of Home Economists (IFHE). Both groups are involved in government initiatives, advocacy programs and professional activities to solve issues relating to food and hunger. IFHE corresponds with the United Nations’ Food and Agriculture Organization to improve conditions across the globe and to realize socially and environmentally sustainable practices in food. My local and global perspectives, combined with my experience in policy, will contribute to the efficiency and effectiveness of MLFPC’s collaborative projects.”

Jessica Cordes

Youth

Jessica is a community-centered professional who is passionate about local food systems and resilient cities. With a Bachelor of Arts in Sociology, a Masters in Environment and Sustainability, and five years of internationally focused work, Jessica brings an interdisciplinary lens to the food system. To strengthen the local food system, Jessica is excited to support programs and initiatives that engage diverse populations, improve community-wide access to affordable and nutritious foods, enhance food literacy, and enable better networks amongst the local food system.  
Jessica believes that a sustainable food system works with the environment, builds the economy, and grows equity and community. She has grown her own little community around her home garden by sharing the harvest and sparking conversations, and she is excited to help build a more resilient community around local food in London and Middlesex. 

Jay Stanford

Energy, Waste, Environment, Water

Jay Stanford has been the Director of Environment, Fleet & Solid Waste at the City of London since 2012 and has responsibilities for Solid Waste Services, Fleet & Operational Services and Environmental Programs (including energy conservation, climate change).

Jay joined the City of London in 1995 and has held number of Director and senior management positions in the Environmental & Engineering Services Area. Prior to joining London, he worked for 8 years for an environmental and engineering consulting firm in Toronto. He has been involved in waste management and resource recovery for about 35 years.

Academically, Jay has a Masters of Public Administration from the University of Western Ontario; a Bachelor and Masters of Arts in Geography from McGill University and an Associate of Arts (Journalism) from Onondaga Community College.

As a Member of the MLFPC, Jay will be a resource in the environment, energy and food (avoidance, rescue and recovery) portfolio. Food waste has become a pressing issue locally, nationally and internationally.

Stephanie Redmond

Agriculture Rural

My passion for food began at the University of Guelph. As a student of the Hotel and Food Administration Co-op (2014) program, I served as the President of the slow Food Student Chapter and Program Coordinator for the Garden-2-Table Program. Though these programs I discovered my love of local food and began to understand the importance of food education and community engagement.

For the pas 9 years I have worked as a hospitality professional in Canada and Australia, specializing in fine dining, hotels, event management, and wineries. Wherever’I was, I enjoyed providing engaging service and creating meaningful connections between consumers and local food producers.

In September 2019,  I decided to take a break from the restaurant industry ad joined an agricultural consulting company called Hometown Ag.  Every day I learn something new about Canadian Agriculture and I am constantly looking for ways to enhance our relationships with food, farmers and each other. At Hometown Ag, we help growers “farm with confidence”. We believe soil health is the building block of farm profitability, sustainability, and healthy farm networks.

There is a connection between the health of our soils, food, farmers and communities. However, there is still a gap between agriculture and consumers. I am excited to be on the 2020 MLFPC. I hope to help create awareness, curiosity in the community and share so we can support a sustainable food system.

NON VOTING MEMBERS

Ellen Lakusiak

Coordinator

Ellen Lakusiak is a Registered Dietitian (RD), currently working at the Middlesex London Health Unit (MLHU) where her portfolio is Food Systems.

Ellen has worked as a Public Health Dietitian at the Lambton Health Unit and most recently at Ottawa Public Health. She has also worked for Mead Johnson Canada, Health Canada and the National Institute of Nutrition. Most of her career in Dietetics has been in the area of prenatal and early year’s nutrition. She published her first book entitled, Eating Well When You’re Pregnant in 1997.

Her role as coordinator is to act as a consistent point of contact for MLFPC members and action groups to facilitate collaboration and dialogue.

Her hope is to contribute to a more sustainable and healthier local food system by connecting best evidence with key food system stakeholders and to improve the understanding of Middlesex London residents of where their food comes from.

Jane Roy

Trustee

Jane has been working for the London Food Bank for over 30 years. She currently works as Co-Executive Director.  Jane has been involved in numerous hunger, anti-poverty and volunteerism initiatives over the years. 

Jane Roy is currently the Co-Executive Director of the London Food Bank. She has been involved at the Food Bank for over 30 years – first as a student volunteer in 1986 to her current role in leadership. 

Jane has been involved in many food, hunger, poverty and social action committees over that time,  including the Mayor’s Anti-Poverty Action Group and as Chairperson of the Ontario Association of Food Banks.  She has presented briefs on hunger and poverty to all levels of government  and speaks to many local groups about involving citizens in community action.

Jane is a long time London resident, is married with 3 children and is also well known for her work in overseas development.