Monday marked the beginning of Hunger Awareness Week which the Timmins Anti-Hunger Coalition and local food banks hope will make city residents more aware of the problems caused by hunger in the community.
Hunger Awareness Week, which Mayor Steve Black proclaimed on Monday morning, is part of a larger campaign organized by Food Banks Canada that runs until Friday.
The week kicked off with a public information meeting on Monday afternoon, where more than a dozen different food-related community organizations in the city gathered together at First Baptist Church to let people know what they do in Timmins, who their clientele are, and what people can do to get involved.
The executive director of the Anti-Hunger Coalition, Michelle Goulet, said they have some other things planned for the week as well, including a collective cooking workshop on Thursday, also at First Baptist.
“It’s going to be called ‘Taste the Rainbow,’ and there will be five different booths with five different demo chefs who will be featuring a different colour of the rainbow, the different foods associated with that and how to make quick-and-easy meals with really nutritious colourful food,” said Goulet.
Whether it’s dumping a bucket of ice water over your head for ALS, or doing push-ups every day for three weeks to support the fight against PTSD — every modern, issue-based, campaign has a challenge that people are asked to post pictures or videos of themselves doing — and this week will be no exception.
The social media challenge of Hunger Awareness Week is the “Empty Spoon Challenge.”
“One in seven Canadians access a food bank, and 30% of those are children,” said Goulet. “So we want to bring awareness to the fact that hunger is a very big distraction in somebody’s life, so there are small daily tasks that become big tasks to do when someone is hungry — especially if they are a child.”
To simulate the distraction of being hungry, people are asked to try to perform an everyday task like doing the laundry or walking the dog while balancing an empty spoon on the tip of their nose, and then post it on Facebook and nominate someone else to take the challenge.
“If the spoon keeps falling off, it just goes to show that hunger is distracting and makes an otherwise simple task very difficult,” explained Goulet.
The whole point of the week, she added, is to make people realize that hunger affects more people than those you might expect.
“Just because you see someone you don’t think is hungry, doesn’t mean that they are not. It’s not just about low-income people. Hunger affects every one of us for various reasons,” she said. “Once the awareness is spread and people want to get more involved in combating hunger, there are many agencies people can get involved with. Whether that means donating financially, giving their time or other resources to eliminate hunger in Timmins.”