The Good Food Machine gets growing in Canadian classrooms

New program for Canadian schools helps kids be healthier through fresh food

TORONTO, May 16, 2016 - LoyaltyOne announced today it is partnering with FoodShare Toronto and Global Teacher finalist Stephen Ritz of the educationally acclaimed Green Bronx Machine to launch the Good Food Machine, a new healthy food education program for children in Canadian communities. 

The first of its kind in Canada, the program launches in Toronto this September and aims to transform the health and eating habits of students in primary and secondary schools through an ongoing curriculum of how to physically grow, cook and eat healthy food –all while in the classroom. The Good Food Machine builds on years of work FoodShare has established in Toronto schools and now expands the number of schools benefitting and grants greater access to resources and food literacy curriculum.

The Good Food Machine is based on the Green Bronx Machine, the first indoor edible classroom in NYC which grows enough food to feed 450 students. The greatest success of this US program is the measured impact it has on the children, with 40% daily attendance increased to 93%, 50% reduction in behavioural incidence and bullying and 100% of post-secondary graduates training or working wage jobs.

"For more than 20 years LoyaltyOne has been a strong supporter of community charities and we are now expanding our commitment by launching a program that will make a meaningful difference in the lives of Canadian kids," says Angela Simo Brown, Head of Social Impact Strategy & Innovation at LoyaltyOne. "Working with the invaluable expertise of FoodShare Toronto, who are already so involved in delivering healthy food and education, ensures the program will have the support it needs for success."

The goal is to introduce this program in phases with phase one launching in schools across Canada in September 2016. Phase two is currently in the planning stage and the markets will be announced accordingly.  For phase one, LoyaltyOne will provide 10 Good Food Machine kits to selected priority schools within the Toronto area.  Each kit will contain two aeroponic tower gardens, a mobile classroom kitchen, iMac computer, multi-media license to access Stephen Ritz curriculum plus classroom teachings via livestream and FoodShare educators who will visit the schools regularly to help teach and support. 

Selected schools were shortlisted by FoodShare and the Toronto District School Board (TDSB), and were invited to apply for a spot in the program. Schools were chosen based on a positive school community, a teacher who would champion the program as well as considering a variety of grades and specialized student programming. Priority was given to schools that rank high on the TDSB Learning Opportunities Index (LOI). The LOI ranks each school based on measures of external challenges affecting student success. It measures relative need and compares all schools on the same set of data.

Phase one schools include:

  • Eastdale Collegiate Institute (CI)
  • York Humber High School
  • Heydon Park Secondary School
  • Bala Avenue Community School
  • Nelson Mandela Park Pubic School
  • Dennis Avenue Community School
  • D.A. Morrison Middle School
  • Charles E Weber Public School
  • Bruce Public School
  • Ogden Public School

"We're delighted to have been selected for this wonderful program," says Martha Bartley, Eastdale CI Principal. "Our students are avid farmers and have been growing on our rooftop since 2013 with the help of FoodShare. The Good Food Machine will allow us to build on our urban farming program and grow year round with all manner of curriculum opportunities, from culinary to science programs. We can't wait!"

In addition to the donated kits, the Good Food Machine is available to all Canadian schools as a purchased program.

"We're thrilled to partner with LoyaltyOne on the Good Food Machine. Bringing good food and food education to schools is at the heart of who we are" says Katie German, Field to Table Schools Manager, FoodShare Toronto. "We've been delivering fun food literacy education to students and teachers throughout Toronto for the past decade and have seen first-hand the transformative power working with food and growing has on students. This program is not only a natural extension of our work but one we cannot wait to share with our school communities."

TODAY LoyaltyOne is sponsoring Global Teacher Finalist Stephen Ritz' presentation at FoodShare Toronto to talk about his innovative Green Bronx Machine program and how this model is being brought to life as the Good Food Machine in Toronto this September.

About LoyaltyOne
LoyaltyOne is a global leader in the design and implementation of coalition loyalty programs, customer analytics and loyalty services for Fortune 1000 clients around the world. LoyaltyOne has over 20 years history leveraging data-driven insights to develop and operate some of the world's most effective loyalty programs and customer-centric solutions. These include the AIR MILES Reward Program, North America's premier coalition loyalty program; a majority stake in European-based BrandLoyalty, one of the largest and most successful campaign-driven loyalty marketers; and a working partnership with Latin America's leading coalition program, dotz.

About FoodShare  
FoodShare Toronto is Canada's largest food security charity with a 30-year history of increasing consumption of vegetables and fruits through community lead projects. We believe everyone deserves access to affordable, fresh food. FoodShare has pioneered innovative programs like our award-winning food literacy program, Field to Table Schools, bringing good food education to schools across all school boards in Toronto, including the TDSB. Hands-on activities from composting and gardening to cooking and tasting to food justice and connecting with nature, FoodShare's dedicated team engage students from JK to Grade 12, and educators alike. Student and teacher workshops are tried-and-tested, with strong curriculum connections and shareable resources for all grades and educators.