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On One Canadian Campus, A Resounding Yes For Solving Hunger

 Jonathan Courtney, a student at Carleton University in Canada, dreamed up an idea that would make it simple for his peers to make a big impact on hunger – and raise incredible awareness in the process. 


Earlier this year, Jonathan took note of the student fees he pays every year and remembered a project introduced on campus early in his academic career: a student organization encouraged fellow students to vote for a referendum that would add a couple of dollars to student fees to raise money for an important cause.  He remembered that the campaign was successful because it empowered students to see how easy it is to integrate doing good into their daily lives.

As President of the WFP Student Network at Carleton University, he set off to create a similar campaign to raise money in support of WFP’s programmes feeding hungry people around the world.  His idea was simple: to introduce a campus referendum that would add US$2 to the student fees every Carleton student pays each year to be donated to WFP. With enthusiasm and hard work, Courtney raised the necessary 1,000 signatures to introduce the referendum on campus in just three days.  

Then, Jonathan began the real work of garnering support for the referendum on campus. He realized that in order to earn a resounding “yes” vote, he would need to convince students of the impact they would make on solving hunger – and in the lives of students like them across the world.  Students already knew that their small individual donations would add up, since the question on the ballot highlighted that levying just US$2 to student fees would raise US$44,000 for WFP. Rather, Jonathan saw that the real challenge would be inspiring students to see that solving hunger begins with them. He encouraged his team to get out there and spread the word.

“Volunteers put up posters, gave class talks, and handed out pamphlets in order to raise awareness about the motion and encourage people to come out and vote,” Jonathan said. 

Their comprehensive campaign paid off and the referendum passed.

‘The US$2 levy will be applied to student fees each year, and this will result in approximately US$44,000 going to the WFP each and every year,” Jonathan said. 

He added, however, that the real impact of his team’s efforts was showcasing to students how small steps taken together make a real difference in the fight against hunger.

“On top of the important financial impact this donation will make, I think the levy represents an important collective commitment the Carleton undergraduate student body has made toward being part of the solution for world hunger,” Jonathan said. “The idea that we can all give up something as insubstantial as US$2 and do something as incredible as providing 160,000 meals to hungry children really shows the power of collective action.”

He added that the success of the referendum was a direct product of the individuals involved. “There were a number of students involved in the campaign but there are a few in particular who deserve special note,” he said.  “I would personally like to thank Amanda MacIsaac, Alanna Blackie, Kathleen Owens, Zachary Fouchard, and Iain Laidley.”

Does Jonathan’s story at Carleton University inspire you to tell your peers how easy it is to make a difference? Share your creative ideas for raising awareness about hunger on campus with us by emailing and you too could be featured in a story here!