Waterloo Region Food System Roundtable

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About The Waterloo Region Food System Roundtable

What is the Roundtable?

This website is a project of the Waterloo Region Food System Roundtable. The Roundtable is a networking and policy-making group working on building a strong voice for a healthy food system in Waterloo Region.

Read more about:


Who are we?

We are a group of representatives from key sectors and interests of the local food system who share the goal of a healthier food system in Waterloo Region. Our Board representatives include local farmers; emergency food providers; food processing, distributing, and retail businesspeople; health professionals; and more. We welcome you to get involved in the Roundtable and share your skills.


Scroll through this section to read about our members, meeting structure, and Terms of Reference, or read this handy three-page overview of the Roundtable written by Jon Steinman as part of a review of food organizations across the country in 2011.





The Roundtable meets five times per year, and all meetings are open to the public.

Scheduled meetings for 2017 will now occur on Mondays and will be posted on the Food System Roundtable Calendar.


Each meeting starts at 1pm and takes place at 99 Regina Street South, Waterloo. Our meetings typically consist of a half-hour of business items (anything requiring a decision), a half-hour of updates from members and approximately two hours of presentations and discussions on issues related to the Waterloo Region Food Charter, which guides our work.

If you would like to suggest an issue for the Roundtable to discuss at a future meeting, contact our Chairperson Joel Knight. Agenda suggestions should indicate: requested time for presentation and discussion of agenda item; relevance to Roundtable goals and prioritized action areas; and decision requested of Roundtable, if any. For a full explanation of our meeting guidelines, click here.





The idea of forming a body that would be representative of all the key sectors and interests of Waterloo Region's food system was first proposed in a discussion paper published by Region of Waterloo Public Health in October 2005. That report, titled Towards a Healthy Community Food System in Waterloo Region, acknowledged that achieving a healthy food system needs the cooperation of many different organizations and individuals.

Over eighty people participated in public consultations on the report in 2006, and endorsed the proposal to create the new organization. An initial group of eight people drawn from various sectors of the food system met throughout 2007 to refine the scope and mission of the new organization, and endorsed a Terms of Reference for it in September 2007.

In November 2007, the Waterloo Region Food System Roundtable announced itself to the world by hosting a public launch event at Conestoga College. Over one hundred people attended, and the event enjoyed extensive local media coverage.

The new eighteen-member body had its first official meeting in January 2008, and has met bi-monthly since. You can read highlights of those meetings on our Meeting Highlights page.

The Roundtable evaluates progress towards its own goals each year.  Here are some recent evaluation reports:



Terms of Reference



To champion a vibrant and healthy local food system.



To increase awareness of food systems issues and communicate with a common voice to promote action.



  • Networking/education build new partnerships and enhance networking between existing food system stakeholders
  • Coordinate/analyze identify and prioritize food system needs and support creation and implementation of initiatives
  • Evaluation establish benchmarks and targets for achievement of mission/goals
  • Funding lever community resources to support mission/goals
  • Policy identify policy changes which support goals and advocate for their implementation



Members of the Waterloo Region Food System Roundtable are committed to the following values:

  • Right to Know — People have a right to know what's in their food and where and how it was produced
  • Access — All people should have physical and economic access to healthy, local food
  • Economic Viability — Local food businesses should be valued, supported and vibrant
  • Sustainability — All sectors of society share in the responsibility for creating and maintaining an environmentally sustainable local food system



Members will be recommended by a nomination committee appointed by the Roundtable, with final decisions on recommendations made by the Roundtable itself. Up to 22 people can be members at any one time. Members may, but are not expected to, formally represent or speak for their organizations, but will be selected on the basis of their ability to speak to issues from the sector or key interest they come from. The Roundtable may decide to have certain organizations formally represented on its membership: the specific organizations to have formal membership will be reviewed by the Nominations Committee annually.

The Roundtable membership shall be representative of the key interests and sectors of Waterloo Region's food system. Key sectors and interests which could have representation include:

  • Farmers
  • Emergency food providers
  • Food manufacturers
  • Urban agriculture advocates
  • Food distributors
  • Academics/researchers specializing in food system issues
  • Educators/teachers
  • Food retailers
  • Land use planners
  • Restaurants
  • Institutional purchasers
  • Low income consumers
  • Ethnic food retailers/consumers
  • Organic food advocates
  • Economic development organizations/ professionals
  • Health professionals
  • Food justice advocates
  • Food marketing organizations
  • Neighbourhood-based food programs
  • Public Health staff

Members must endorse the Mission, Goals, and Values of the Roundtable and have skills or experience in at least one area of food system issues. Members are expected to take on at least one volunteer role with the Roundtable in addition to their commitment to attend all regular meetings.

The Roundtable's membership should reflect Waterloo Region's diverse population, including, but not limited to, race, rural/urban residency, gender, and socioeconomic status.



Members will be appointed for two-year terms, with half of the members' terms expiring in odd-numbered years, and the other half expiring in even-numbered years, to ensure consistency. Missing two meetings a year without prior discussion with a Co-Chair is deemed equivalent to a resignation. The Roundtable will appoint new interim members during the term as needed.



The Roundtable will, at the beginning of each term of membership, elect from its membership two Co-Chairs. The duties of the Co-Chairs include:

  • propose meeting agendas
  • invite guests
  • chair meetings
  • facilitate dialogue among Roundtable members between meetings
  • liaise with Roundtable support staff, if applicable
  • in circumstances prescribed by the Roundtable, act as spokespeople


Meeting Business

The Roundtable shall meet a minimum of five times per year, at dates and times to be agreed upon by the membership.

Quorum for conducting business at a meeting will be six members.

At least one meeting per year shall be open to the public. Minutes of all meetings shall, upon Roundtable approval, be available to the public.

Decisions of the Roundtable will be made by majority vote, except on decisions related to the adoption of public policy positions, which require unanimous approval. The Co-Chairs will use their discretion to select policy issues for consideration by the Roundtable, focusing largely on endorsing positions of member organizations where consensus exists.

The Roundtable may form task groups or ad hoc committees to undertake tasks that require in-depth work on behalf of the Roundtable.



The Roundtable may enter into agreements with organizations to provide administrative and/or research support to the Roundtable, or may directly hire staff.