Halloween with a twist: Raising awareness about food insecurity
WHAT: Members of the student group, PRAXIS, participated in Trick or Eat, a Canada-wide campaign organized by the non-profit organization, Meal Exchange. This national charity empowers youth to take an active role in improving their local food system.
HOW IT WORKS: Trick or Eat puts a new spin on Halloween. Instead of collecting candy, thousands of Trick or Eaters across the country raise money online and go door-to-door to collect non-perishable food items for local food agencies. On Halloween night in 2014, U of M students listened to a presentation about food security before heading out into the community. They gathered 685.5 pounds of food, and some participants also volunteered at Winnipeg Harvest the following week, helping to sort through donations.
THE GOAL: To raise awareness about food security issues in Winnipeg.
WHY IT’S IMPORTANT: “While providing food to families and individuals is necessary, it is only a short-term solution. Learning more about food security, including root causes and long-term solutions, starts a dialogue in which we can begin to address the issue at large,” says Linda Lam, Praxis program assistant. “Food security is a wide-spread problem with over 60,000 Manitobans using food banks, and 45 per cent of that number is children. Our participants made the cause more personable by relating to the fact that some of our peers right on campus experience food insecurity.”
MOMENTS THAT MATTERED: “For some, Trick or Treat is a cross-cultural experience. Chaeyoung Kim, a Korean exchange student, had never gone trick or treating before and had only ever heard about it through her English teachers back in Korea,” says Lam. “For Liying Peng, an international student who is also a first time trick or treater, it was a more meaningful way to engage in Halloween festivities than going to a party. Our group expressed how inspired they were by the community and their generosity to give.”
IN THEIR OWN WORDS: “There were multiple houses with grocery bags full of non-perishables sitting on their steps waiting for us,” says Hannah Brezden, an Agricultural and Food Sciences student.
“What was overwhelming for me was the readiness of people to give,” adds Falilat Ibrahim, a graduate student in the Faculty of Law. “We didn’t have to over-explain our purpose. Everyone was willing to contribute something.”
FUNDERS: Student Life, Student Residences (Thrive), Meal Exchange (Trick or Eat Campaign), and Winnipeg Harvest