Every October 31 children take to the streets to collect candy in their neighbourhoods, dressed as superheroes and monsters.
For the fifth year, University of Toronto students in Mississauga will be among the costumed pack at your doorstep, but it won’t be treats they are asking for.
In its eighth year, Trick or Eat, is designed to get students and young people involved in fighting hunger issues throughout the country. Trick or Eat targets youth volunteers, ages 17-24 to collect non-perishable food, in costume on Halloween night.
University of Toronto student, Sunny Pathak, is no stranger to the Trick or Eat campaign. He has been involved for the past three years.
“I think that this is probably the most unique volunteer experience that you can find,” Pathak said. “You can’t really go knocking door to door for candy, but you can go door to door for those who need it.”
Last year, the University of Toronto’s Mississauga campus raised 750 pounds of food to donate to local food banks. This year, their goal is 1,000 pounds.
Communications and marketing officer for the Daily Bread Food Bank, Gabrielle Chackal appreciates how important it is to get youth involved in hunger issues.
“We depend on the entire community to fight hunger and ultimately end it,” she said. “Youth getting involved at a younger age in social issues throughout the community is extremely important for them and us.”
Pathak also sees the benefits of volunteering: “In terms of volunteership, it is great for those who want to give back to the community,” he said.
Although Halloween doesn’t fall within one of Daily Breads official food drives, Chackal is quick to point out that this doesn’t matter.
“Hunger doesn’t take a holiday. Those that go hungry or are struggling with poverty are doing it on a daily and monthly basis,” she said. “We do rely on community members and groups to run food drives and fun drives to help us raise money and the food we need.”
The Trick or Eat campaign is organized by Meal Exchange, which is a student founded organization designed to help fight hunger.
According to Dave Kranenburg, Executive director of Meal Exchange there are 52 locations across Canada participating.
“Last year we had about 4,500 students and we are estimating around 6,000 for this year,” he said. “There are lots of new locations and more people are always volunteering.”
Kranenburg also appreciates the uniqueness of the program. “Those involved are a little bit too old to go out and collect candy,” he said. “They still want to go out and have a great time.”
This year, in total, it is hoped that Trick or Eat will raise $350,000 worth of food, enough for 140,000 meals.
“Right now we are making sure that the community knows we are coming,” Kranenburg said. “We have volunteers out there putting notices on doors and making sure that people are ready to donate.”