Chew on This!

Oct 18th, 2017

Laura Woodford

Some students from scwrk 2211 class
Chew on This!

To coincide with International Day for the Eradication of Poverty on Oct. 17, groups of social work students distributed brown paper bags with Chew on This! splashed across them at various locations across Memorial’s St. John’s campus.

The students were joining many people 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 five years since its launch. This year, events were held by over 70 groups in more than 30 cities from Vancouver to St. John’s to Yellowknife.  

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.  

This year, the organization is calling for the forthcoming Canadian Poverty Reduction Strategy to be based in human rights and fully funded in Budget 2018.

According to Canada Without Poverty’s annual Poverty Progress Profiles, 26,366 people accessed food banks in Newfoundland and Labrador in 2016.

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.

“This important campaign raises students’ and the public’s awareness about the prevalence and consequences of food insecurity and poverty,” she said. “The project combines theory with action, helping students to appreciate the different understandings of poverty and social class that co-exist in our communities.”

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.

While the federal government has committed to a national action plan to end poverty, the national organizers of Chew On This! are advocating for the plan to be comprehensive, rights-based and informed by those with lived experience, in order to be effective.