USU Enviro Week: Changing Our Food System From Within

Tuesday 20 April 2021
5.00 - 7.00pm

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The Refectory, Holme Building, Science Road, University of Sydney



University of Sydney Union

A panel of change-makers discuss food insecurity and how organisations are tackling this unjust system followed by unique Indigenous, locally sourced canapés.


Eating ties us to the social and environmental challenges inherent in our food system. It is a system that is currently unsustainable and rife with injustices: from exploitative labour practices to the pressures of climate change, loss of farmland and food traditions to the disempowerment of communities. And paradoxically, people struggle to put food on the table, whilst so much food goes to waste. COVID-19 has not only made visible these challenges but also spurred visionary local food actors to innovate, cooperate and diversify.

We invite you to join the local food revolution that is taking place in our neighbourhoods and on campus, and to hear from some of these local change-makers.

This event showcases three projects that offer robust action and generate alternative pathways to sustainable local food systems. We hear from USU operations manager, Ben Pinney, about his work transforming the University’s ‘food system’. He will offer insights into some of the biggest food challenges on campus and present an exciting and important new proposal – the Community Kitchen Project. Shaun Christie-David, co-founder of Colombo Social, will talk about his Sri Lankan restaurant that employs, educates and feeds some of our most vulnerable in the community. And we hear from Program Facilitator Jamie Loveday and Post-doctoral researcher Kate Johnston about their work with The University of Sydney led food business incubator, FoodLab Sydney, and the intersection of research and community action.

Join us after the panel to enjoy some free Indigenous, locally sourced canapés provided and prepared by the USU, Plate It Forward & Food Lab chefs and enjoy premium wines by The Hidden Sea who are engaged in the fight to clean up our oceans.

This event is part of the USU’s annual EnviroWeek: Sustainability in Action. Explore the full program here.


Shaun Christie-David is CEO and founder of PlateitForward, a multi-faceted, community-driven organisation providing food, cooking lessons, advanced kitchen training, qualifications, confidence and employment to Sydney’s disadvantaged community members.

Kate Johnston is a Postdoctoral Research Fellow on the Australian Research Council (ARC) funded project FoodLab Sydney with partners including City of Sydney and FoodLab Detroit. Her research interests include environmental/food justice, sustainable food systems, experimental and interdisciplinary methodologies. She is co-founder and co-editor of Counter Magazine.

Alana Mann (Chair) is Chair and Associate Professor in the Department of Media and Communications and Project Lead on SEI’s FoodLab Sydney research projects. Her research focuses on the communicative dimensions of citizen engagement, participation, and collective action in food systems planning and governance. Alana’s new book, Food in a Changing Climate, challenges us to think beyond our plates to make our food systems more equitable and resilient.

Ben Pinney is Food and Beverage Operations Manager at the University of Sydney Union. With over 20 years of hospitality experience, Ben has been leading the way at the University of Sydney by transforming its food and beverage operations by engaging in sustainable initiatives. Passionate about delivering the best student experience in the most sustainable way possible, Ben has engaged with companies whom are driven by positive corporate social and environmental impact.