Making "waste not" a way of life

by Jennifer Nault

Macdonald Campus student Bernice Ting is one of the 2014 recipients of the McGill
Alumni Association’s Gretta Chambers Student Leadership Award.

“Hate” may be a strong word, but it is the word used by mild-mannered Bernice Ting to describe how she feels about waste. “Kitchen waste is a resource; I believe we can find ways to make use of everything along the chain.” Bernice, finishing a double major in nutritional science and food science, says she has been interested in the culinary arts and science in equal measure from a very young age.

“It is all about efficiency, and fine-tuning processes so there are no wasted resources,” she says. She has not wasted her time at McGill, either, She has, in fact, been one of the most highly engaged students on Macdonald Campus during the past four years. She calls Mac campus home, quite rightly – it’s in close proximity to where she grew up on Montreal’s West Island. “I love being on the Mac campus, and being here has shaped my university experience. The pace is so different from the downtown campus; there’s a different vibe. I guess it’s more communal and intimate because we’re a smaller campus, and we get to really know each other while we’re here.”

Given her level of involvement on the campus, Ting must know everyone by now. Kicking off her studies in 2010, Ting served for two years as waste auditor for McGill Gorilla Composting at Macdonald Campus, a program that promotes organic waste composting throughout McGill, and on an individual level, as well.

Maximizing spare hours, she also joined other groups, organizations and volunteered her time in countless ways: She served as a committee member for the Food Science Association in 2012 and 2013; took on the role of head coordinator of the Good Food Box in 2012 and 2013; and has, most recently, been serving as the accounts manager and hazard analysis & critical control points coordinator for the Out-of-the-Garden Project, where she wears many hats: She is the bookkeeper, works on recipes, does kitchen prep and serves food, as well.

With her involvement in so many initiatives, to focus in on one seems less than fair. When pressed to talk about one, she reflects, “the Good Food Box [a program offering fresh fruit and vegetables to McGill students on a weekly basis] has been such an incredible program. It’s hard for students to grocery shop – so many of them don’t have cars and they have to lug everything on the bus or metro. I am really happy to have been part of that.”

Ting was nominated for – and will soon receive – a Gretta Chambers Student Leadership Award from the McGill Alumni Association for organizing the Food Science Department’s 25th anniversary symposium in 2012. Her nominator, Macdonald Campus alumni relations associate Anna Duff, calls Bernice “an exceptional Macdonald student – academically, as a volunteer and for the Macdonald community.”

The anniversary event was a huge undertaking, requiring the organization of publicity, speaker engagements, event planning, and much more. Duff commended Ting for her organizational skills, her dedication to the project, and the way she managed to maintain top grades, winning scholarships and recognition in the same year. The anniversary symposium was a success, and more than 400 people attended, including alumni, friends and people from the community.

Thinking more about the activities she has taken on, Ting decides she can't just settle for praising one. Another initiative Ting raves about is her latest commitment, the Out‐of‐the‐Garden Project, a student-run café on the Mac campus that cooks and preserves locally grown – and sourced – food. “This is by far the biggest project so far,” she beams. “This is a business. We had to work closely with McGill and the administration to raise funds and meet food and safety requirements. It took longer, but the results are so much bigger. It’s grown amazingly, and I’m so proud of it.”

One gets the sense that sharing a kitchen with Ting would be fun – and the hours spent prepping or canning food with her would be time well spent.

More stellar students


Bernice Ting isn't the only student standout receiving a Gretta Chambers Student Leadership Award this year. Here are the other remarkable recipients:



Jonathan Collin has served as co-captain of the McGill Redmen football team and as president of the McGill Varsity Council, which represents the University’s varsity athletes. He has increased the engagement of varsity athletes with the McGill community, hosting food and blood drives and other charitable initiatives. In 2013, when students held a referendum on paying an ancillary fee to support McGill athletics, he chaired the “Yes” committee and organized the successful campaign that resulted in a further $500,000 annually for that cause.



Management Undergraduate Society (MUS) president Joël Taillefer's many accomplishments in the Faculty include founding the Desautels Preparatory Case Competition, a recruiting event for prospective students; acting as the executive director of the Desautels Ambassador Program to promote the Faculty to incoming students; and serving as a lead member of the Desautels Career Centre Peer Advisors. He also implemented the first Alumni Board of Advisors of the MUS, and has worked hard to encourage Desautels graduates to play important roles in MUS events as coaches and judges.



Laurent Duvernay-Tardif is the co-captain of the Redmen football team and an outstanding medical student who was one of eight student-athletes recently honoured as a Governor General’s Academic All-Canadian. He has volunteered with the Défi Canderel to raise funds for cancer research and with the Montreal Shriners Hospital for Children, and he has hosted football camps for elementary school children. He is the recent recipient of the Stuart Forbes trophy as McGill’s male athlete of the year. The imposing offensive tackle has been scouted by both CFL and NFL teams­­­ – he is the top-ranked Canadian for the 2014 CFL draft ­– and was even featured in a recent issue of Sports Illustrated.