Our People

OUR TEAM

Meet the dedicated personnel who make up the Middlesex-London Food Policy Council. The MLFPC Board includes volunteer representatives of agri-food stakeholders from both the county and the city. 

EXECUTIVE COMMITTEE

Jessica Cordes

Chair

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.  

Thomas Sumpter

Treasurer

Economic Development

Thomas is a Commercial & Agricultural Account Manager with Libro Credit Union. He 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 in 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. He sees his role on  MLFPC as an opportunity to build relationships, achieve sustainability, and encourage communication around food policies related to rural and urban agriculture.  

Vice Chair (vacant)

Secretary (vacant)

BOARD MEMBERS

Justin Adema

City of London

Lella Blumer

Urban Agriculture

Born and raised in London, I was drawn 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, researcher, 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. 

John Brennan

Middlesex County

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.

Anal Dave

Food Processing

Amy Donaldson

Community Member – Urban

Amy Donaldson has served as the Ontario Student Nutrition Program (OSNP) Coordinator since 2017 with VON Canada. Amy has over 15 years’ experience working in the food industry, previously working as a professor of nutrition at the Stratford chef college, as well as working over 8 years in the kitchen of a long-term care facility. She worked with VON and other agencies supervising the Meals on Wheels programs, community dining and other food related initiatives.

In her current role as OSNP coordinator Amy oversees 86 breakfast / school food programs in London and Middlesex county, providing supports and ensuring they are meeting nutrition guidelines. She also works diligently on the children’s nutrition network,  a framework of individuals from the local community who work to fundraise and support school food programming. Amy also Co-chairs the Basic Need Committee with the Child and Youth network and sits on many boards such as HEHPA and Poverty priorities in the city. 

Ramona Dunn

Indigenous

Ind Ramona Dunn is an Anishnawbe Kwe who is a member of the Beaver Lake Cree First Nation. Having been born and raised in Toronto by a mother who was a residential school survivor, Ramona lived first hand through the challenges facing Indigenous people. In the face of these challenges, Ramona worked her way through Nursing school in the late 1970’s and returned to school years later to obtain a Bachelor of Science degree with Honors in Nursing from Ryerson University in 2004.

Ramona’s specialty is diabetes education and she is a Certified Diabetes Educator. She brings all of her Traditional Indigenous knowledge and the knowledge acquired through western medicine back to the Indigenous community through her role as a Diabetes Nurse Educator at an Indigenous Community Health Center in London. Her unique experiences have made Ramona an advocate for food sovereignty within the Urban Indigenous community and she promotes urban food sovereignty through a garden group that she has been running for the past two years. She also assists in the distribution of food through the Food Hub in London.

In her spare time, Ramona is self-professed “Foodie” and is a committed organic backyard gardener. She enjoys growing, preparing and consuming food that does not leave a high carbon footprint. 

Sarah Finch

Member at Large

Danica Flores

Volunteer

Danica Flores is a food system and food policy passionate individual. She has been working within the non-profit sphere, helping others build relationships surrounding local and international food systems for three years through her roles as VP external and President of the Western Vegan Society.

Through these positions, she has organized Canada’s first University Plant-Based Festival, feeding 700+ Western University students for free alongside organizing other food education events. Besides these roles, she’s also worked with other food system partners within the community, such as the London Food Coalition and The Salvation Army’s Community Garden.

Academically, Danica holds an honours specialization in Social Justice & Peace with a minor in Women Studies. Currently, she’s completing a Post-Degree Diploma in Non-Profit Management from Western University. Danica hopes to bring an intersectional lens to the council, while supporting and facilitating projects that serve MLFPC’s mission, vision and values.

 

Benjamin Hill

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.”

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.

Heather Martin

Food Distribution

I am from a 100 acre cash crop farm in Southwest Middlesex. Growing up I worked at several local farmers markets, and was a member of 4H and Junior Farmers. I earned diplomas in Business Supply Chain Management from Fanshawe College and Agriculture from Ridgetown College. My love of travel took me to the United Kingdom where I volunteered with World Wide Opportunities on Organic Farms for several months. Living abroad and in Western Canada has made me appreciate London and Middlesex even more for the extensive and bountiful agriculture we have. 

My career has been focused on supply chain management for several essential industries: agriculture, medical supplies, and education. There are many efficiencies to be found in the supply chain when the broader perspective of processes are analyzed. I am passionate about the positive impact this role can create in building a circular economy and reducing climate change.

Dianne McComb

Agriculture Association

Mother of son and two daughters plus one grandchild has opened my eyes to endless possibilities. Journey of life had me growing up on a farm near Lucan, Ontario where we finished beef cattle, grew crops and cared for laying hens. The beef cattle were later dropped in favour of laying hens.

Educated at Fanshawe College. Worked 12 years as a law clerk in both Ottawa and London. After children were born, returned to help on the family farm. In 2010 my brother and I purchased the farm from our parents. The farm continues with a new generation. 

Home and School, School Council, Ontario Federation of Agriculture and Farm & Food Care Ontario were groups I was active in as a member and chair.

Elected Director Egg Farmers of Ontario board for 8 years as representative for Middlesex. While on board chaired Public Affairs, also member of Finance and Production Management Committees. 

Stacey McDonald

Food Service

Jose Medina

Food Processing

Jose is the Sr.Director of Quality for Dessert Holding, with facilities in Atlanta, Houston, Vancouver and London. Dessert Holding is North America’s premium dessert company, recognized for providing the customers with chef-inspired innovative desserts made with real ingredients, a flexible and low-cost supply chain, and best-in-class service. Jose has worked in the food industry for over 25 years in different departments (QA, Maintenance, Production, Continuous improvement). Prior to coming to Canada, Jose worked for Adams in the confectionary division. He has a food science degree, a Master’s in Science in Manufacturing from the University of Liverpool in England, and an MBA from Universidad de las Americas in Puebla Mexico. Jose has a passion for his family, sports, food, and working for and with society to help the community. 

Ben Shantz

Middlesex County

Susan Smith

Susan Smith

Education

Susan is a volunteer at the MLFPC with long-standing expertise in nutrition. She graduated from UWO, Brescia University College in 1995 and has been a clinical dietitian at the London Health Science Center for almost 25 years.

She has a keen interest in sustainable food systems that create a harmonious urban-rural relationship with a focus on community health and a minimal carbon footprint.

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.

Michael van Holst

City Councillor

Michael van Holst has been the City Councillor for Ward 1 since 2014. He currently sits on the Lake Huron Primary Water Supply System Joint Board of Management, London Hydro Inc. Board of Directors, Rapid Transit Implementation Working Group, Waste Management Working Group, Hamilton Road Business Improvement Area, Elgin Area Water Board, and Governance Working Group.

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

Coordinator

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.

VOLUNTEERS

Tiffany Lam

Volunteer

Tiffany is a fourth-year student at Western University and she is currently finishing an Honours Specialization in Nutrition and Dietetics. She is passionate about learning about the international food system, food literacy, and how nutrition takes part in everyone’s daily life. 

She joined MLFPC in May 2019 as a Social Media Volunteer. So far, she has been helping MLFPC in managing and creating content for different social media platforms and websites. She is also part of the London-Middlesex Restaurant Support Fund storytelling project team.

Puja Pachchigar

Volunteer

Puja is passionate about analyzing the food system and its interactions with human life from the lenses of philosophy, nutrition, and computer science.  She believes that access to nutritious food and clean water is a fundamental human right, and can only be achieved by spreading awareness and encouraging community-backed food systems. With a Masters in Computer Science and industry experience of eight years as a Database Administrator, she comes equipped with the knowledge of organizing data and virtual logistics.

She wants to apply it to the food system and the various operations related to that. Currently pursuing a Bachelor of Arts in Philosophy, she critically analyzes the food system and other related issues from multiple angles. Puja is excited about solving the pressing problem of food waste by spreading awareness about how to avoid it and by establishing a self-reliant food network that can provide access to nutritious food for the locals.

PAS Prisma cropped

Paul Seale

Volunteer

Paul has been an archivist, an academic, a restaurateur, and a communications professional, but is probably best-known in London for his years of grassroots community development. Having worked in the public, private, and nonprofit sectors, he is convinced that the people who drive these pursuits are more similar than different and sees our common dreams as opportunities for collaboration.

With years of work in the restaurant industry and, then, managing a social enterprise grocer, Paul brings experience in issues that affect food service and retail and has a special interest in local, sustainable, equitable, and environmentally responsible behaviors throughout the food system, including supply, retailing, preparation, food access, and food recovery.

A community-builder by vocation — he now works in membership engagement at Pillar Nonprofit Network — Paul seeks to bring better democratic systems and citizen engagement to our food system.

“I feel it’s urgent to repair our food system to ensure access to good food for all”, Paul says, “and the MLFPC is the perfect place to contribute to the work”.