When little ghosts and goblins are ringing doorbells for candy treats on Halloween, Acadia student volunteers will be ringing the same doorbells in support of the Wolfville Food Bank.
Trick or Eat is a Canada-wide program of students going door to door at Halloween collecting money, canned goods, and anything else their local food bank needs. The program is championed by Meal Exchange, a registered charity that helps university students to develop solutions that address hunger, food insecurity and sustainability on campus and within their communities. At Acadia, Trick or Eat is facilitated by Community Outreach Acadia, a student-run volunteer organization.
“About 40 students volunteer every year for Trick or Eat,” says Allison Smith (’18), coordinator of Community Outreach Acadia. “A few days before Halloween, we put flyers on the doors of all the houses in Wolfville and some in Port Williams to let people know we’ll be coming. Often, people who aren’t around on Halloween night will leave a bag outside by the door for us. They want to donate and look forward to us coming every year.”
This year’s goal is to meet or exceed last year’s collection of 2,048 non-perishable food items and $102, she says.
For the food bank, the impact is significant, says Janet Roberts, the Wolfville Food Bank volunteer and management committee member who liaises with Trick or Eat.
“The food bank is completely run by volunteers, and we rely entirely on private donations of volunteer time, food, and money,” Roberts says. “Large food drives such as Trick or Eat provide a significant amount of food that replenishes our pantry.” The food bank sees an average of 110 families a month, she adds.
Trick or Eat offers Acadia students a fantastic opportunity to make a positive difference in the community, Smith says. “It’s important to the food bank, and they always express how grateful they are for our help. We have so many students at Acadia who want to volunteer, and that’s what Community Outreach is all about. It’s important that students go out into the community and get involved.”
Roberts agrees. “The fact that Trick or Eat is run by students and is town-wide brings additional benefits to the community and the food bank,” she says. “Because students go door to door throughout town, their presence at every door raises the profile of the food bank. There’s probably no one in town who isn’t aware the food bank is here, but Trick or Eat reminds people that our clients’ need continues month to month, year over year. Also, as a member of this community, I like that this food drive gives Acadia students a chance to engage with the Wolfville community in a positive way. We encourage them, when they go door to door, to wear their Acadia gear and announce that they’re from Acadia. We want people to know who the students are – who’s out there doing this good thing for our community.”