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Working Together to Fight Food Shortage

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

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Written by Jaimee-Lisa Cotter

While Canadians were busy  stuffing themselves with fall feasts and pumpkin-flavoured everything, Guelph Food Bank has been gearing up and collecting for their annual fall food drive. Volunteers and organizers have distributed 36,000 brown paper bags to be filled with non-perishables to be delivered to families in need.

Last year the organization’s annual drive helped in the collection, sorting and distribution of over 1.1 million pounds of food in 2013 alone. Organizers are hoping that in 2014 with the popular seasonal food drive celebrating a 26 year milestone, there will be an even greater outpour of support in the form of canned and non-perishable foods as well as financial donations to assist the families living in the Guelph community and surrounding areas that require support from food assistance programs.

Many people are seemingly unaware that there is in fact food insecurity in the Guelph-Wellington community: 16 per cent of the community cannot afford to adequately feed themselves and their families. For many residents, the choice between adequate nutrition and affording a place to live is a very real concern that all too often leaves a few stomachs grumbling.

University of Guelph students play more than a small role in the community fundraiser, and have their own fall tradition to contribute to fighting hunger and poverty that is especially as Canadians get ready for the expenses that can come with winter.

Meal Exchange, a national registered charity started in 1993 works with over a third of Canadian Universities to run programs in over 100 communities across Canada, giving students resources to develop innovative solutions for problems regarding food insecurity, shortage and poverty.

The most popular initiative that the Meal Exchange Program has is the Trick or Eat campaign: Each year on Halloween, students dress in costume and volunteer their time going door to door asking for non-perishable food donations to supply families who rely on food assistance programs in their respective communities.

The University of Guelph is home to a wildly successful chapter of the meal exchange program, and has an overwhelmingly effective campaign: Over 1000 Guelph students participate in Trick or Eat each year, which is almost three times the national average.

With 100 communities and as many as 30 Canadian universities involved, University of Guelph students are responsible for record breaking food donations and incredible online and in person financial and monetary fundraising, boasting the most successful campaign of all Canadian campuses.  Since 2001, Gryphons have collected more non-perishable food items with Trick or Eat alone than any other participating school.  

“Trick or Eaters” also raise money online via sponsorships and pledges, which in turn is donated to organizations like the Guelph Food Bank, community kitchens and elementary and high school breakfast programs. Food items collected from University of Guelph’s Trick or Eat is the largest single food donation collected annually by the Guelph Food Bank, and are a big part of the funding and supplies that the Food Bank relies on to meet its annual fundraising goals.

Guelph Food Bank will be continuing their collections for the annual fall drive right through until Sunday Oct. 19. Bags have been distributed inside flyer sections of local newspapers and in residential mailboxes; however donations are welcomed and accepted at the headquarters and storage house at 100 Crimea Street.

Students interested in signing up to participate in Meal Exchange’s Trick or Eat initiative are encouraged to visit the Meal Exchange office in the University Centre, Room 241. 

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