By KIRSTEN FENN
While most kids were out filling their Halloween bags to the brim with goodies this Wednesday, volunteer groups across the city were trick-or-treating with a different food goal in mind.
Instead of collecting candy, student volunteers across Ottawa spent the night campaigning door to door for Trick or Eat, a national food security initiative organized by the non-profit group Meal Exchange.
The project, which began in 1999, aims to collect food and donations for community food banks and raise awareness about Canada’s food security system.
“This is a time of year when food banks especially need the support that a food drive can provide, and that’s perhaps the major goal,” said Praan Misir, campus coordinator at Meal Exchange.
For the Ottawa Food Bank, this kind of campaign is crucial to maintaining food supply and raising awareness about the need to donate.
“As the weather starts to turn, and bills are getting bigger, food is especially needed,” said Samantha Ingram, communications coordinator at the food bank.
Dressing up and going door to door on Halloween night allows volunteers across Canada to directly inform the community about the campaign’s goals, said Ingram.
“A lot of awareness always needs to be raised for the issue of hunger, and this is definitely an amazing way to do it,” said Ingram.
Misir says that since its debut, Trick or Eat has raised over $3 million worth of food for community food agencies.
“Trick-or-Eat’s goal is not only to provide emergency food relief, but also trigger conversations around how we as Canadians can improve our food system, be that through other community based food initiatives, or policy and structural redesign of the system,” said Misir.
At Carleton University, the Trick or Eat food drive connects students with their community, and allows them to contribute to the campaign on a national level, said Tabitha McDonald, CUSA Food Centre coordinator.
According to McDonald, Carleton’s 200 participants collected 20 000 lb. of food for Trick or Eat over the last 4 years.
“It’s a really fun thing to be involved with,” said Sarah McCue, who works with McDonald at the Food Centre.
“You’re raising food for people who need it most. Everyone who gets involved always leaves with a great feeling, and you know that you’ve done something good.”
Misir says that Meal Exchange is hoping to raise even more food and donations, and to see its campaign spread to every province in the country in the upcoming year.