Annual drive asks students to donate funds from their meal plans
The Guelph chapter of Meal Exchange is running its annual ‘Skip a Meal’ campaign from Jan. 27 to 31. The week long drive is designed to raise money and awareness to fight hunger in Guelph. Donations will be forwarded to 19 different local organizations, including the CSA Food Bank, the Guelph Food Bank, and other shelters and community groups that help vulnerable populations.
“Meal Exchange is a national student-founded, youth-driven registered charity organized to address local hunger by mobilizing the talent and passion of students,” states the Meal Exchange website. “Since 1993, our programs have been run in over 100 communities across Canada and generated donations of over $3 million worth of food and funds to address local hunger.”
The Skip a Meal program was first started in 1993 by Meal Exchange’s founder, Rahul Raj, as a way for students to donate money from their meal plans. The local chapters of Meal Exchange, which at the University of Guelph is overseen by the Central Student Association, work with food wholesalers to redistribute food purchased with donations to local organizations.
Meal Exchange first organized as a student run charity in 1996 and has since provided youth volunteers with resources and support to work to increase food security and access to healthy meals. Meal Exchange also runs the annual Trick or Eat food drive at the U of G, which gets students to go door-to-door on Halloween collecting non-perishable items instead of candy for a similar cause.
Meal Exchange partners with Guelph Hospitality to purchase food at wholesale prices. The money raised through the campaign is used to purchase food that local organizations most require.
“Ten dollars feeds a family of four,” explained Vinosha Jegatheeswaran, the Central Coordinator of Meal Exchange Guelph. “We are able to provide staple foods which are normally donated. We then deliver the food to [the charities] at the end of each semester, which are crucial times in the year when money is tight.”
“There are many ways for students to get involved,” added Jegatheeswaran. “We’ll be in the UC courtyard, Creelman Hall, Mountain Cafe, and doing classroom presentations. [Students] can donate money from their meal plans by simply filling out [an online] form.”