Glossary of Terms

We use a lot of specific terms in our work. This glossary has been developed so that everyone can have a common understanding of what we mean when we use these terms. It has been developed for any audience – to serve as a reference for those who are new to our work, as well as for those who are experienced in this area. We have tried to use plain language as much as possible.

Many of the definitions below have been borrowed from other sources. Where this is the case we have referenced and included a link to the original source.

This glossary is a living document and will evolve as we deepen our own understanding of these terms. Please get in touch if you have any suggestions for these definitions or any new terms to add to the list!


Capacity building

(Renforcement des capacités)
Supporting communities to gain the knowledge, skills, resources, and relationships they need to build strong local food systems. local food systems.

Classroom growing

(Culture en salle de classe)
Activities that allow students to grow food in their classrooms. These activities may include sprouting seeds in containers or learning to use hydroponic growing towers. Sprouts, beans, and lettuces are always popular options to grow. Classroom growing is especially useful for schools that don’t have access to an outdoor garden or have a short growing season.

Community connectedness

(Resserrement des liens avec la communauté)
Community connectedness is about building relationships between local food providers, schools and institutions, public health professionals, local businesses, and other community champions. These relationships transform local food systems and create vibrant and healthy communities. Community connectedness is at the foundation of Farm to Cafeteria Canada’s work.

Community of Practice (CoP)

(Communauté de pratique (CdP))
A group of people who build relationships, share knowledge and resources, and collaborate to inform, inspire and amplify impact. Farm to Cafeteria Canada facilitates an Edible Education Community of practice. Learn more

Culturally appropriate food

(Aliments culturellement adaptés)
Food is an important part of a person’s cultural identity. Certain foods have specific meanings in different cultures. The term culturally appropriate food (or culturally responsive food) is used to describe many things related to cultural foods, such as how foods are prepared and shared, if the foods are familiar, diet or religious restrictions, and how food knowledge and skills are shared (adapted from: United Way of Olmsted County. In a school setting, the foods served, grown, and learned about should be culturally appropriate and help students to feel that they belong.


Systemic barriers related to gender and sexuality, race and ethnicity, Indigeneity, ability, physical and mental health, age, and socio-economic status limit or prevent people’s equal access to power and resources within society. Equity is a practice that strives to remove these barriers, so that all people are treated with fairness and respect and have access to the power and resources they need to reach their full potential.

Farm to campus

(De la ferme aux campus)
Farm to Campus applies the farm to school approach to the university and college setting.

Farm to school (F2S)

(De la ferme à l’école)
An approach that gets students growing, cooking, eating and embracing healthy local food. Farm to school (also called local local food to school) programs include 3 elements: local healthy food, hands-on learning and community connectedness. Farm to school programs create and strengthen vibrant local-food systems. Learn more

Farm to School: Canada Digs In!

(De la ferme à l’école : Le Canada, une terre fertile!)
Canada Digs In! has been a 5-year national multi-sectoral partnership initiative funded in part by the Public Health Agency of Canada and Whole Kids Foundation led by Farm to Cafeteria Canada. Learn more

Farm to School fundraiser

(Activité de financement De la ferme à l’école)
Farm to school fundraisers raise funds for school through the sale of fresh, healthy and local fruits and vegetables. In the process, they support local food providers. Learn more.

Food environment

(Environnement alimentaire)
Parts of the physical and social environment that affect things like what foods are available, how easy or difficult it is to get those foods, and what food marketing and nutritional information people tend to see. The food environment can greatly influence a person’s food choices. Source: Canada’s Food Guide
The school food environment includes what foods are used for classroom activities, special events, and fundraising, what foods are served in breakfast, lunch, and after school programs, and whether or not all children and youth have equal access to healthy food and sustainably produced food.

Food forest

(Forêt nourricière)
A garden where vegetables, herbs, and fruit trees are planted to mimic patterns in nature (also called a forest garden). Food forests are perennial, meaning they do not need to be planted every year, and tend to be very resilient: Project Food Forest

Food jobs

(Emplois en alimentation)
Jobs within the food system that provide employment. This includes jobs in food production and processing, distribution, preparation, service, or waste as well as jobs related to food education.

Food justice

(Justice alimentaire)
The effort to recognize food as a human right and end all forms of oppression. Not everyone has equal access to power and resources in society, and that is no different in food systems. Food justice seeks equity in how food is grown, produced, transported, distributed, accessed, and eaten. Source: Food Secure Canada.

Food literacy

(Littératie alimentaire)
Understanding where food comes from, how to grow and prepare it, and how to make healthy and nourishing choices about food. It also means understanding how food impacts health, economics, and the environment. Hands-on learning is an important part of food literacy. Learn moreabout the role of food literacy in the farm to school approach.

Food procurement

(Approvisionnement alimentaire)
A term used to describe how institutions, such as schools and healthcare facilities, purchase food. Farm to school, farm to campus, and farm to healthcare programs encourage institutions to buy from and support local food providers, food entrepreneurs, small businesses, businesses owned by underrepresented groups, and suppliers who use more sustainable production methods.

Food safety

(Salubrité alimentaire)
Practices that ensure food is handled, prepared, served, and stored in ways that prevent food-borne illnesses. Learn more about food safety in Canada on the Canadian Public Health Association website.

Food security

(Sécurité alimentaire)
There are many ways that people define food security. The FAO defines food security as being “When all people, at all times, have physical and economic access to sufficient, safe and nutritious food to meet their dietary needs and food preferences for an active and healthy life.”

Food skills

(Compétences alimentaires)
Food skills programs provide people with the knowledge, tools, and confidence to grow, cook, and choose healthy food for themselves and their families. Source: Community Food Centres Canada. In school-based food skills programs, students can learn how to grow food; to identify and harvest traditional Indigenous foods on the land and from the water; to cook from scratch; to plan and shop for healthy food on a budget; to preserve food; and to accommodate dietary preferences and needs. Adapted from Canada Food Guide’s Importance of Food Skills section.

Food sovereignty

(Souveraineté alimentaire)
Food Sovereignty is a social justice term and a grassroots movement. The term describes people’s right to define and control their own agriculture and food systems. The Food Sovereignty movement is being led by Indigenous peoples, rural women, farmers, migrants, and workers all over the world. Learn more on the Food Secure Canada website.

Food system

(Système alimentaire)
Food systems are complex webs of activities that involve food production, processing, transport, distribution, consumption, and disposal. Food systems are connected to each other and are crucial to public health, environmental sustainability, the strength of the economy, and the wellbeing of communities. Adapted from the Food Policy for Canada.

Food waste

(Gaspillage alimentaire)
Any food that is produced but not eaten is considered food waste. Food waste can happen anywhere in the food system, from land to table. Food waste is a major contributor to the climate crisis, pollution, and loss of biodiversity. Source: UN Environment Programme. As much as possible, food should not be wasted at any step in the food system.

Hands-on learning

(Apprentissage pratique)
Hands-on learning (or experiential learning) is learning by doing. It is a key element of the farm to school approach. Hands-on learning activities, such as growing, harvesting, preserving, and cooking food, allow students to learn about food systems and health while also developing their food skills. Hands-on learning can help students learn the school curriculum in every subject. Learn more.

Health equity

(Équité en santé)
That all people can reach their full health potential and should not be disadvantaged from attaining it because of their race, ethnicity, religion, gender, age, social class, socioeconomic status or other socially determined circumstance. Source: Allies for Reaching Community Health Equity.

Healthy eating

(Saine alimentation)
Healthy eating is a pattern of eating that contributes to best possible health through positive relationships with food and diverse, balanced food choices. Source: HealthLink BC. As described in the Canada Food Guide, “healthy eating is more than the foods you eat. It is also about where, when, why and how you eat.” This includes cooking more often, eating meals with others, and celebrating culture and food traditions. Access the Food Guide's full guidance here. Eating patterns are determined by the Social Determinants of Health.

Healthy food

(Aliments sains)
Food that provides the nutrients you need to maintain your health, feel good, and enjoy your life. Healthy food should consider people’s physical, mental, emotional and spiritual needs, including being culturally appropriate and responsive. Access the Food Guide's full guidance here. Also see Healthy eating.


An indicator is a specific, observable and measurable characteristic that can be used to show changes or progress a programme is making toward achieving a specific outcome. Source and more info: UN Women.

Institutional food

(Alimentation dans les institutions)
Foods that are served in institutions, such as schools, university and college campuses, healthcare facilities, and prisons.

Knowledge Keeper (Also Traditional Knowledge Keeper or Knowledge Holder)

(Gardien du savoir
(aussi gardien du savoir traditionnel))
An Indigenous person who preserves and shares the traditions, ways of being, practices, and laws of their community and nation. Knowledge Keepers are taught, by Elders and Senior Knowledge Keepers, how to care for these teachings and when it is and is not appropriate to share them with others. Source: Adapted from Queens University Office of Indigenous Initiatives & The Wîtchitowin Conference Committee.

Knowledge Translation & Exchange (KTE)

(Application et échange des connaissances (AEC))
The process of making research and evaluation findings accessible and interesting to the general public. At Farm to Cafeteria Canada, we often refer to our published materials as KTE.

Land-based learning

(Apprentissage axé sur la terre)
Local food systems are rooted in the land we’re on and that we’re surrounded by, and this land comes with deep histories, stories, and lessons to share. We believe that education about our local food system must tie back to the land and its histories and stories. Land-based learning involves learning from the land and water, and understanding and fostering our connection to them. Farm to school is inextricably connected with land-based learning practices: land-based learning, as an experiential approach, helps us foster a relationship with food and understand how we sustain ourselves. Land-based learning is rooted in Indigenous teachings and worldviews, which should be acknowledged whenever this approach is used.

(Farm to School) Learning circle

(Cercle d’apprentissage De la ferme à l’école)
A farm to school, or local food to school, learning circle is a process to build, strengthen, and expand collective farm to school or local food to school efforts. Individuals and organizations across the food system gather and work together to identify and address systemic barriers to get fresh, local, and sustainable food on the minds and plates of students. A coordinator supports the work of the group, which is unique to each community. Learn more.

Local food

(Aliments locaux)
At Farm to Cafeteria Canada, we define local food as food that is consumed as close as possible to where it is produced. We encourage people to source local food first within their community or region, then within their province, then within Canada. Local food includes traditional Indigenous food that has been harvested from the land and water. The term is not synonymous with Sustainably produced food.

Local food provider

(Fournisseur d’aliments locaux)
Producers and harvesters that provide local food, including farmers, fishers, and traditional Indigenous food providers (e.g. hunters and foragers). Local food providers can also be processors and retailers who are a part of the local food system and economy. Local food providers are referred to by some as local agri-food businesses.

Local food system

(Système alimentaire locaux)
The system that brings local food to eaters, with an emphasis on enjoying food that is sourced as close to home as possible. The local food system is made up of local food providers, processors, distributors, retailers and eaters. A strong local food system supports local businesses (generally smaller to medium size), contributes to a vibrant local economy, and often emphasizes environmental sustainability. 
The local food system includes traditional Indigenous food systems and sourcing food and medicines off of the land and from the water. It also includes personal and community growing, harvesting, preparation, preservation, sharing and composting. See also Local food and food system.

Local food to school

(Alimentation locale à l’école)
An alternative to the term farm to school. It is the preferred term in many Indigenous communities and some regions when describing the diverse local and traditional foods served in schools, many of which are not sourced from farms. When spoken about as an approach, local food to school incorporates the same three elements as farm to school: local, healthy food; hands-on learning; and community connectedness.


A change that we want to see happen as a result of farm to school activities.

Outdoor learning

(Apprentissage en plein air)
In the context of farm to school, outdoor learning is education that takes place outdoors, such as gardening, land-based learning, and other food literacy activities.

Regional Leads

(Responsables régionaux)
Members of Farm to Cafeteria Canada’s national team. They are the main contact for Farm to Cafeteria Canada in their geographic region and they usually work for a partner organization. Regional Leads work as a team to get more healthy food, localy food and sustainably produced food to communities in their regions and across the country. They do this by supporting research and evaluation, developing tools and resources, and creating opportunities for people to connect, share and learn. Meet the team and find a regional lead in your area.


The ability to prepare for, withstand, and recover from crises and other difficult events. In Farm to Cafeteria Canada’s work we talk about two forms of resilience:
1) Food System Resilience – the ability of food systems, especially local food systems, to withstand and recover from disruptions (for example, one school was able to safely serve romaine lettuce in their salad bar during an E-coli outbreak because it was grown at their school).
2) Personal Resilience -- specifically students’ ability to bounce back from difficult life events. Activities such as hands-on learning and community connectedness contribute to students’ resilience.

Salad bar

(Bar à salades)
A model of food service where students choose from a variety of healthy food and serve themselves whenever possible. Foods served in a farm to school salad bar are ideally sourced from local food providers. Salad bars should provide a complete meal in line with Canada’s Food Guide, offering different fruits and vegetables, and at least one grain and one protein option. Learn more on the F2S Salad Bar page.


A place of learning. This includes preschools, elementary schools, middle schools, secondary schools, after school programs, colleges, universities and other institutes of higher learning. F2CC's programs are inclusive of different types of schools (e.g. public, private, faith-based, Indigenous-led, alternative and non-traditional).

School community

(Communauté scolaire)
The people, organizations, businesses, and institutions that are invested in the welfare and vitality of a school
and its community (i.e., the neighborhoods and municipalities served by the school). Source: Glossary of Education Reform. This includes school staff, parents, grandparents, caregivers, volunteers, community members, and local food providers.

School farm

(Ferme scolaire)
School farms are like school gardens, but are larger in scale. School farms produce large amounts of food that are used in school meal programs or distributed or sold to the community.

School garden

(Jardin scolaire)
Gardens on school grounds that are used for growing fruits, vegetables and other edible plants, which may include traditional and medicinal plants. School gardens are often used to teach students how to plant, grow and harvest foods. These outdoor learning spaces can help students connect to nature and can open up many opportunities for learning.

Social Determinants of Health

(Déterminants sociaux de la santé)
Many factors influence a person’s health. In addition to genetics and lifestyle choices, where and how a person grows up, lives, works and ages also has an important influence on their health. The Social Determinants of Health (SDOH) are the social and economic factors that can influence a person’s health, such as income, education, employment and experiences of discrimination, racism and historical trauma. Read more on the Government of Canada website.

Sea to school

(De la mer à l’école)
An alternative to the term farm to school. Sea to School activities can help to connect students to delicious local seafood and help them to understand a key element in coastal communities’ local economy. Learn more in the New Brunswick Farm to School Guide.

Sustainable food system

(Système alimentaire durable)
Food systems that create vibrant local economies, ensure environmental sustainability and contribute to health and wellbeing for all people. Source: McConnell Foundation.

Sustainably produced food

(Aliments produits de façon durable)
Food that is produced in ways that support a community’s environmental, economic, social, and cultural well-being. While there is no one definition of sustainably produced food or how to measure it, Meal Exchange’s Good Food Wheel shows the many things to consider when thinking about sustainable production. Sustainably produced food is consistent with the idea of “good food.” Good food is nourishing and is grown, processed, and prepared in a way that respects producers, consumers, communities, and the earth. Good food has deep regard for human dignity and health, animal welfare, social justice, and environmental sustainability. Source: Sustain Ontario.

Traditional Indigenous foods

(Aliments autochtones traditionnels)
The plants and animals that Indigenous peoples use for food and medicine. Traditional Indigenous foods are sustainably harvested in ways that do not harm the environment and that ensure that future generations can access these foods. Traditional foods and medicines are crucial to Indigenous peoples’ nutrition and health, culture, spirituality, and connection to the land and water Source: Fraser Health.

Ultra processed food

(Aliments ultra- transformés)
Food products that go through multiple processes, such as extraction, refinement, and transformation, contain many added ingredients, and usually contain little or no whole food. Some examples of ultra-processed foods are soft drinks, chips, chocolate, candy, ice-cream, sweetened breakfast cereals, packaged soups, chicken nuggets, hotdogs, and fries. Adapted from Canada Food Guide & Heart & Stroke.

United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs)

(Objectifs de développement durable (ODD) des Nations Unies)
In 2015, the UN General Assembly set out these 17 connected global goals “to achieve a better and more sustainable future for all” by 2030. Farm to school aligns with and advances many of the SDGs, including those related to health, the environment and education. Learn more.


A person’s well-being describes their physical, mental, spiritual and emotional health, their sense of self and belonging, and the skills they have to make positive choices. Source: Achieving Excellence: A Renewed Vision for Education in Ontario. Achieving Excellence: A Renewed Vision for Education in Ontario.