TORONTO - A national student food charter will be launched in conjunction with a summit being held this weekend at the University of Toronto.

The non-profit Meal Exchange, which is hosting the three-day gathering at Hart House, says the charter is a unified vision for how food is handed on campuses and in communities across Canada.

Meal Exchange has worked with youth for the last 14 years to collect food to help fill the shelves of their local food banks while educating youth to develop long-term sustainable solutions to hunger and food insecurity in their communities.

"The charter will raise the bar for campuses to develop food systems that are socially responsible and accountable to the student voice,” Caitlin Colson, student food network co-ordinator for Meal Exchange, said in a statement.

The idea for the charter emerged at last year's summit. It was developed from more than 400 student voices and through 25 peer-led consultation sessions.

Meanwhile, the summit gives students from across the country a chance to interact with their peers and leaders from a variety of sectors and backgrounds, such as health, poverty, the environment and the food industry.

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Get involved! National organizations helping with hunger across Canada:
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  • Canada Without Poverty

    <a href="http://www.cwp-csp.ca/" target="_hplink">Mission statement</a>: "We work to address the structural causes of poverty by raising awareness, educating and inspiring others to support its eradication in Canada."

  • Meal Exchange

    <a href="http://mealexchange.com" target="_hplink">Mission statement</a>: "Meal Exchange is a national youth-driven, registered charity that engages, educates and mobilizes youth to work with their communities in order to alleviate hunger locally and achieve food security."

  • Oxfam Canada

    <a href="http://oxfam.ca" target="_hplink">Mission statement</a>: "Oxfam Canada works with partner organizations in developing countries; tackling the root causes of poverty and inequity and helping people to create self-reliant and sustainable communities."

  • Food Banks Canada

    <a href="http://www.foodbankscanada.ca/" target="_hplink">Mission statement</a>: "Food Banks Canada strives to meet the short-term need for food, and find long-term solutions to hunger in order to reduce the need for food banks and emergency food services in Canada."

  • Local Food Plus

    <a href="http://www.localfoodplus.ca" target="_hplink">Mission statement</a>: "Local Food Plus (LFP) is Canada's premier solutions provider for local sustainable procurement. We are an award winning charitable non-profit committed to growing local sustainable food systems."