By Nazeefa Ahmed, October 27 2022—
The Office of Student Leadership Engagement is hosting the annual Trick-or-Eat event on campus today. The event goes from 4 to 7 p.m. where volunteers will go door-to-door in communities around the university to collect food and essential care items for U of C students struggling with food security.
In an interview with the Gauntlet, coordinator of New Student Programs at the Student Leadership and Engagement Office Frances Donahue spoke about the organization of the event.
“How Trick-or-Eat works is that teams of students go out into the neighbourhoods, that have already been informed that we are coming, to collect the food items and personal care items,” said Donahue. “Then we come back and weigh the items and the team that has the most weight by poundage wins.”
The event was active even during the pandemic years, collecting 1700 pounds of items. The highlight year was 2010, where 6300 pounds of food was collected. Donahue points to the strong community bonding that occurs during such events.
“Developing those campus connections and friendships while being in service to the community is actually quite powerful,” she said. “Every year, we have alumni reach out and tell us that they had a fantastic time and want to participate again.”
The Students’ Union (SU) Food Bank has seen a 46 per cent increase in the number of students accessing food hampers this year compared to 2018 numbers. Donahue stated how food insecurity is not only limited to a skipped meal. Rather, she pointed to the domino effect on a student’s academic success and mental well-being.
“In students, food insecurity adds another layer of stress and anxiety. They are not really able to focus on their studies,” said Donahue. “We want to create an environment where students feel supported and achieve the best they can academically and in the co-curricular activities they take on to better themselves. If [food security] is another area that they have to worry about, it takes them away from being present and being productive. It impacts their level of creativity.
“I think it goes further than ‘I didn’t have breakfast today’ or ‘I can afford to only eat once a day’ when facing food insecurity,” she continued. “[Students] are spending mental and emotional energy on feeding themselves or their family if they are supporting one.”
In her concluding remarks, Donahue expressed gratitude for the greater acknowledgement of food insecurity among the campus community.
“We appreciate the recognition that there are students and campus community members that face food insecurity that we are completely aware of,” said Donahue. “We can make a positive impact, and make a difference for them while creating a community experience. It is a tangible expression of care and kindness: showing what matters to people and that people matter to us.”
Those interested in participating in the Trick-or-Eat event can come to MSC 293. More information about the requested items and drop off sites can be found on the Student and Leadership Engagement website. To register for the event, visit the U of C website.