U of G's Meal Exchange Wins Volunteer Award

April 23, 2009 - News Release

The University of Guelph chapter of Meal Exchange has received a 2009 June Callwood Outstanding Achievement Award for Voluntarism. The awards will be presented Friday in Toronto.

This is the second time the awards have been presented. Named for the late June Callwood, a Canadian journalist, author and social activist, they recognize individuals and groups for exceptional leadership, innovation and creativity, and significant contributions to their communities and to the province through volunteerism.

U of G's Meal Exchange chapter is one of 20 organizations and individuals being honoured.

"Meal Exchange represents the power of our student volunteers," said Brenda Whiteside, associate vice-president (student affairs). "It's student-run, it engages University and community partners, it involves thousands of student volunteers, and it has a significant impact on the city of Guelph and surrounding communities. I am thrilled that our student contributions are being honoured by this significant award."

Meal Exchange is a national student-run organization that aims to engage students from 35 Canadian campuses in solving the problem of hunger in their communities through various campaigns and initiatives.

In the past 10 years, the Guelph chapter has raised nearly $700,000 for Meal Exchange, with all of the money supporting local agencies. Nearly 29,000 volunteers have been involved over the years. On average, the Guelph chapter, managed by the Central Student Association, contributes about one-quarter of all donations Meal Exchange receives nationally.

Last fall, the U of G chapter broke a national record in the "Skip a Meal" campaign, raising more than $26,000 — the highest amount ever raised by a Canadian university or college. "Skip a Meal" involves members of the University community donating meal points or cash, with donations supporting 19 local organizations, including men and women’s shelters, food banks and drop-in centres.

Meal Exchange’s other programs include "Trick or Eat," which involves students going door-to-door on Halloween collecting food for the Guelph Food Bank. Last fall, U of G students set another national record, collecting $87,200 worth of donations and another $5,500 online. More than 1,450 students participated.

Its newest initiative, Twenty-Four for Hunger, was held in January and involved students going without food for 24 hours, contributing the money they would have spent on food. U of G raised more than $2,300 for the local Onward Willow Breakfast Program, the biggest lump-sum donation the breakfast program has ever received.

"Meal Exchange at the University of Guelph is a poignant example of the power of youth to be positive forces in their community," Dave Kranenburg, Meal Exchange's executive director, said in a support letter.

"And it's no understatement to say that without the success of Meal Exchange in Guelph, the national organization would not exist today and be working to replicate the 'Guelph model' on 35 other campuses across Canada."

For media questions, contact Communications and Public Affairs: Lori Bona Hunt, 519-824-4120, Ext. 53338, lhunt@uoguelph.ca; or Barry Gunn, Ext. 56982, bagunn@uoguelph.ca.

University of Guelph
50 Stone Road East
Guelph, Ontario, N1G 2W1