University of Guelph students could win prize for on-campus initiative to alleviate food insecurity

A group of University of Guelph students is getting recognition for their work in redirecting campus leftovers to help feed those in need across the city.

Noorain Mamdani is the incoming co-president at MealCare Guelph.

"MealCare is all about collecting surplus food from our dining hall," she said. "We donate it to local organizations that feed insecure members of our community."

The student-driven initiative has already made an impact by reducing food waste and helping those who need a helping hand.

"We've already reached over 22,000 pounds of food donations since our inception, and we are hoping for that number to just continue to grow, reaching 50,000 to 100,000 down the line," said Mamdani.

Their hard work is also getting noticed.

MealCare Guelph is one of 15 finalists for the 2022 David Suzuki Future Ground prize. The competition highlights youth-led initiatives in Ontario and British Columbia that have a positive impact on the environment.

"What stood out about MealCare is they are really working towards creating sustainable food systems and how access to healthy food is a human right," said the David Suzuki Foundation's Stevie Luzzi. "These young individuals, they're so inspiring."

A jury will decide who gets the grand prize of $5,000, but there is a way for the community to help the group secure a separate prize worth $2,500.

"The People's Choice Award is running from May 16 to June 13 and we would love the community support with the votes in that matter," said Mamdani. "We're hoping for that prize, and if we do receive [it], we would love to put it towards our community fridge initiative to help peers on campus."

Votes can be made on the foundation's Future Ground Prize website.

Even if they lose the competition, Mamdani recognizes how the group's work is making a difference in Guelph.

"There are things you can do to make a positive impact on the community," she said. "Any step, whether small or big, can help the people around you."