Meal Exchange student leaders from the University of Calgary’s annual Hunger Week brought many inspiring events to raise awareness for food security on campus and in their community. With the theme of “Feeding the Body, Mind, and Soul” in mind, events like workshops and panel discussions examined food’s role in all aspects of health. Jesse Stanich, Co-Coordinator at Meal Exchange Calgary took some time to speak with Tim Li, Meal Exchange Communications Volunteer, on their exciting week.
Tim: What were some of the highlights of Hunger Week?
Jesse: Some of the highlights were handing out of snack packs at the beginning of the week and our event called "Views from the Loft", where we discussed the interconnected and cultural considerations of food. The buzz created by the snack pack event is always a good starting point to the week as we handed out information regarding the other events. Students also got a chance to voice their opinions on current food issues.
Tim: How did the students and faculty respond to and engage with the events?
Jesse: While there is room for improvement on the attendance frontier, I felt that individuals who attended the events got an excellent experience. Our staff at the Centre for Community-Engaged Learning and the Leadership and Student Engagement program were very engaged in the events and helped advertise them greatly.
Tim: What inspired this year's theme, “Feeding the Body, Mind and Soul” ?
Jesse: The Student Union Wellness Centre inspired much of our theme for this year. All events were shaped around their seven dimensions of wellness - physical, academic, mental, financial, social/cultural, environmental, and spiritual. Mental health is an increasingly important issue being raised on campus, and much of the inspiration for holistic wellness came from the desire to incorporate other aspects of wellness beyond the physical.
Tim: Could you tell me about the Hamper Project?
Jesse: The Hamper Project challenges 3 students to spend the week with different food restrictions to experience what it is like to have limited food access on campus. This year, 3 students ate exclusively halal, gluten/lactose free, or from the student food bank. It brought about a moment of realization for those who have little to no dietary restrictions. Being limited on campus in terms of food can be a large disadvantage in terms of diversity and availability of food in general. One of the biggest moments of the panel discussion in my opinion was when one of our biggest Halal advocates informed us that progress had been stopped in terms of bringing a larger diversity of Halal food to our Campus. This showed how even awareness and advocacy is sometimes not enough to bring about change; we need more real solutions to these problems if they have been raised.
Read more on the Hamper Project student experience here
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