Chew on This!

Nov 15th, 2016

Laura Woodford

One of the groups of students participating in the Chew on This! campaign
Chew on This!

If you were around many places on Memorial's St. John's campus in mid-October, you may have seen groups of social work students handing out brown paper bags with Chew on This! splashed across them. They were just one group of many across the country taking part in the national Chew on This! campaign organized by Dignity for All, an initiative co-led by registered charities Canada Without Poverty (CWP) and Citizens for Public Justice (CPJ).

Designed to raise awareness about hunger and the need for anti-poverty policy in Canada, the campaign has gained momentum over the last several years and this year for the first time, events were planned in every territory and province!

In early October, national organizers accept completed order forms from participating organizations, then pack and ship the materials, including the bags, magnets and postcards addressed to the Honourable Jean-Yves Duclos, federal Minister of Families, Children and Social Development. Volunteers request apples from local orchards, grocers, etc. to fill the branded paper bags, along with a magnet and postcard. They then take a day to distribute the bags while discussing the campaign and hopefully prompt people to consider the realities of poverty and food insecurity.

According to HungerCount 2015, Food Banks Canada (2015), nearly 900,000 people rely on food banks each month in Canada.

Janice Parsons, assistant professor with the School of Social Work, teaches a course called Diverse Theories for Social Work Practice. Trying to make a theory course meaningful for students, Ms. Parsons says, is challenging. This initiative, however, does just that.

"It helps theory come alive," she said. "When theory is tied into action, as with this project, it makes it meaningful. This important campaign raises students' and the public's awareness about the prevalence and consequences of food insecurity and poverty."

After the event, students complete an assignment on the initiative that has them examine both formal theories and informal understandings of poverty in our community.

Ms. Parsons acknowledges the generous assistance of Sobeys at Ropewalk Lane who donated all of the 15 dozen apples for this year's event on the Memorial campus.

Chew On This! is an opportunity to raise public and political awareness about hunger, food insecurity, and poverty in Canada. The national organizers are calling for a comprehensive national poverty action plan that addresses these issues, while ensuring the rights of people living in poverty and inclusion of the voices of those with lived experience of poverty.