Trick or Eat volunteers collect non-perishable items on Halloween for food banks

TORONTO – As trick-or-treaters in search of sweets fan out in neighbourhoods across the country on Friday, volunteers in many communities will be going door-to-door to collect non-perishable donations for food banks.

This year, participants with Trick Or Eat, a national drive organized for 15 years by the registered charity Meal Exchange, will also urge Canadians to become more aware that long-term solutions are needed to alleviate hunger.

“It is imperative that we change the conversation from hunger as a charitable cause to hunger as a systemic and structural problem,” Sarah Archibald, program manager at Meal Exchange, said in a statement. “Ending hunger in the long term will require systemic interventions to build more just and sustainable food systems.”

Meal Exchange cites figures from such organizations as the Conference Board of Canada and Food Banks Canada which show that as of 2012 food insecurity affects one in eight households in Canada. More than four million Canadians do not have access to safe, nutritious and affordable food, an increase of 500,000 individuals from 2008. This figure includes 1.15 million food-insecure children.

“Although food banks started about three decades ago as a temporary response to a recession, Canadians have grown accustomed to a permanent charitable food network in Canada. Millions donate to food drives in an attempt to help those in need,” added Archibald.

“However, the institutionalization of food banks and rising rates of food insecurity indicate that food banks are unable to adequately address the hunger problem at its root.”

In 2012, 5,680 participants in 102 communities raised $375,000 worth of food (150,000 meals). They also raised $25,709 online through online donations.

Canadians can visit to find out if there is a door-to-door campaign in their area and gather cans to have ready at the door when volunteers stop by. Or they can make an online donation.