Fair trade events like "Muggy Mondays" are gaining popularity at Dalhousie's Union Market. (Photo: Ryan Hemsworth)

Dal trying to become Fair Trade Campus

University could become the second Fair Trade Campus in Canada

Dalhousie University is working towards designation as a Fair Trade Campus. The Dalhousie chapter of the international development group, Engineers Without Borders, is working with campus food providers to reach this goal.

Fair trade aims to give fair wages to farmers and artisans from Latin American, Caribbean, African and Asian countries behind products such as coffee, tea and cocoa. This is done through a certification system by Fairtrade International. Products are monitored from the start of production to the final point of packaging.

Sophie Henderson, vice president of advocacy with Engineers Without Borders, says getting the campus certified will provide good publicity for the school. She says the campaign has been important for promoting awareness and discussion as well as criticism and debate of fair trade.

If certified, Dalhousie would become the second university in Canada to be designated as a Fair Trade Campus.

The group has been working with food service providers Aramark and Sodexo. Food at the Student Union Building is provided by Sodexo while the rest of the campus buildings are serviced by Aramark. This includes residence dining halls.

The university hopes to apply for Fair Trade Campus status early in the 2012 winter semester.


Fair Trade Campus standards

In May 2011, the University of British Columbia became the first Canadian university to achieve Fair Trade Campus certification according to the Fairtrade Canada guidelines.

To be certified, a campus must comply with the following standards:


  • Availability - all coffee Fair Trade Certified (FTC), a minimum of three teas FTC, a minimum of one FTC chocolate bar, only FTC tea and coffee at student union meetings, events and offices and more.
  • Visibility - prominent signage at places selling FTC products, FTC product information, Fair Trade Campus page on university website, participation by campus administration in an annual event celebrating Fair Trade Campus status
  • Committee - A fair trade committee made by the university to monitor fair trade compliance, set goals and report to Fairtrade Canada. The committee must consist of a top level university vice president, a purchasing or retail manager, a faculty member and a student representative.


These standards apply to purchasing done under the control of the university and student union. This includes coffee and tea served at meetings, events and through catering services. However, the standards do not apply to independently operating businesses such as Tim Hortons, Subway and Booster Juice.

Staci Farrant is the registered dietician with Aramark for Dalhousie. She says that working towards being a Fair Trade Campus is an important step for food services to be socially responsible. Fair trade gives farmers better wages.

“Everyone needs to support their families and shouldn’t be working for less than they deserve,” Farrant says.

Even before being approached by Sophie Henderson, Food Services had taken steps towards fair trade.

“For us, it was really a no-brainer. We had almost everything anyway,” Farrant says.

All the coffees on campus, with the exception of flavoured coffee, was already fair trade. The flavoured coffee is no longer being purchased and will gradually be phased out.

Aramark has been raising awareness around fair trade by providing handouts, recipes from the Fair Trade Canada website and displays inside dining halls.


Muggy Mondays gives Dal students a taste of fair trade

Fair trade coffee has been available for free on campus at the Student Union Building every Monday during the fall and winter semester. The weekly Muggy Monday event put on by SustainDal gives people free organic and fair trade coffee and tea if they bring their own mug.

Dal student Julian Beal goes to the SUB most Monday’s to fill up his mug.

“It’s always reliable, and I mean, it’s free coffee. Always good for a Monday.”


(Graphic: Ryan Hemsworth)


(Chart: Fairtrade.net)

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