The data on the number of people who need food donations to survive in Canada is stark. More than 850,000 individuals need food donations to survive in Canada and over 33% are children and youth. Out of these individuals, 79,000 were aided in Alberta in 2016, of which 39% were children. Hunger impacts more than 4 million Canadians daily. The Kids Food Basket (KFB) program was established to provide food to Canadian children in need while exploring approaches that foster awareness of the impact of hunger in the Canadian community, especially among children and youths.
The 2018 KFB campaign kicked off at the University of Alberta in February. After several months of planning, Project Lead Loveleen Sidhu received empty donation boxes from the Edmonton Food Bank. These were then placed in various locations within faculty buildings at the University of Alberta, as well as in select locations in the city. Posters were created to raise awareness about the initiative across campus, with the PEIF Fund organization placing paid ads featuring the posters on Student Union Television (SUTV) in select locations on campus.
After a month long campaign, the team collected all the donated food items, placing them at a central location where they were picked up by an Edmonton Food Bank representative who arrived with a truck. The PEIF Fund thanks all who diligently contributed to the success of the campaign, including representatives at the Edmonton Food Bank. Several volunteers worked hard to ensure that there were donations in the boxes and that there was a temporary storage room for donations. Others, including Ms. Rukaiyat Lawal, Class of 2018, participated in the collection process, assisting in moving the food items from different locations to storage. The PEIF Fund is grateful to all who, through their efforts, helped us deliver on our public commitment.
The campaign was not accomplished without some challenges. “One of the challenges we faced,” says Ms. Loveleen Sidhu, “was the alleged theft of donations from one of the faculty donation boxes.” This was a box placed in an open area accessible to many. “However, it was suspected that the thief was a homeless individual who was in need of the donations anyway,” adds Loveleen Sidhu.
In spite of the challenges, Sidhu acknowledges the success of the program while promising to take the lessons learnt from this campaign into future ones. “Overall, the initiative was a rewarding experience,” she says, “as it was satisfying to know that the targeted members of the community would benefit from the efforts we put forth.”
Next steps for another round of the campaign will involve meetings with key representatives of the Edmonton Food Bank, the PEIF Fund and members of the Class of 2018 leading the next instalment of the program.
Additional Reports by Loveleen Sidhu and Rukaiyat Lawal.