By Danika Gagnon
CBC Radio and Hockey Night in Canada host George Stroumboulopoulos is a World Food Programme (WFP) ambassador, advocating for food security worldwide. He and WFP Executive Director Ertharin Cousin were on campus last week to talk about the links between climate change, conflict and food insecurity. Their riveting discussion in front of a packed audience examined the harsh reality of hunger and malnutrition, an "entirely solvable problem" affecting about 800 million people. The Gazette sat down with Stroumboulopoulos to ask about his involvement with this cause.
Q: How did you become involved with WFP?
A: I officially got involved a few years ago, when I started talking to the point person in Canada about things I could do. I had already been promoting some WFP efforts. I was in Zambia in the early 2000s, when I worked at MuchMusic, and I saw the WFP plane drops [of food]. I read a bit more about it and thought it was interesting. Then I went to Darfur in Sudan during the genocide. We were trying to get into a region that only WFP could access, and I got a ride on their plane. I wasn’t working with them at the time, but I found that all the places I was going to, and the things that I was interested in, WFP was there. I’m a big fan of working with people who are already doing stuff.
Q: Why was it important for you to come here to speak to youth?
A: There is a smart group of people in this room and in this school. We know that there are people here who will be inspired by or connect to this discussion – they’ll be able to go out and do something. I like that, I like change and I like being a part of it.
Q: WFP says it hopes to eradicate hunger by 2030. How can university students be part of that effort?
A: They can work with us at WFP. They can also look at some of the initiatives we’re running and start doing them locally in their community. There are a million reasons why you can talk yourself out of being relevant – but what’s the point of being alive if you can’t do good stuff and if you can’t help people out? So I look at it as: You go and try to reach as many people as possible and hope that these people go and act on it and do something – and I think that’s pretty cool.