Guelph federal candidates to discuss food insecurity at Eat Think Vote debate

A debate titled Eat Think Vote in Guelph Tuesday will bring some of the federal election candidates in the city together for the first time to face-off on the subject of food insecurity.

'I'm really excited to see what the candidates have to say,' organizer Kiana Gibson says

This photo from the Guelph Food Bank's Facebook page shows volunteers that help at the facility. A debate Tuesday night called Eat Think Vote will see local federal election candidates debate food insecurity and accessibility in Guelph and nationally. (Guelph Food Bank/Facebook )

A debate in Guelph Tuesday afternoon will be one of the first opportunities for local federal candidates to face each other.

Titled Eat Think Vote, Tuesday's debate will focus on food insecurity and food accessibility both on a local and national level.

Kiana Gibson is a third year arts and science at the University of Guelph who has been working at the school's Arrell Food Institute this summer and has organized the local debate.

As a first-time voter, Gibson says she's excited to watch the debate play out.

"This has been an issue that's increasingly become important to me and I really care about," she said. "I'm really excited to see what the candidates have to say and see the contrast in their answers and how they approach their policies and what they think about these issues."

Debate part of national campaign

Eat Think Vote is a campaign from Food Secure Canada. The organization ran a similar campaign during the 2015 election.

This year, they are encouraging communities to set up debates on the topic of food insecurity.

"The conversations that took place in communities across Canada had a direct impact on policy at the federal level," Food Secure Canada said on its website.

Gibson said all parties were invited to have candidates at the debate. As of Monday afternoon, current MP and Liberal candidate Lloyd Longfield, NDP candidate Aisha Jahangir and Green Party of Canada candidate Steve Dyck had confirmed their attendance. Conservative candidate Ashish Sachan will not be in attendance.

Other parties, including the People's Party of Canada, Marijuana Party and Rhinoceros Party, were also invited to take part, she said.

'Make informed decisions'

Gibson says she hopes the debate attracts people of all ages, including her fellow university students who stayed in Guelph for the summer or who may be returning to the city.

"We think it's really important that everyone in Guelph, every demographic, every level of income has an opportunity to come in and feel welcome and ask questions at this event," she said.

She said it would be great if people who aren't sure what food insecurity means in Guelph and Canada come to the debate to get a better understanding of the issue.

"I think it would be really great for people to understand that this is an issue but that there are also ways that we can work towards solutions and that they can see how federal candidates plan to address these problems and that they can therefore make informed decisions when it comes to voting time," she said.

The debate is organized in conjunction with The Seed and the Guelph Community Health Centre, and is set to get underway at 4:30 p.m. in the community room at the Guelph Community Health Centre downtown. People are asked to register ahead of time, but Gibson said they are still welcome if they haven't done so. 

The federal election is on Oct. 21.


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