For many university students, Halloween is more about dressing up in sexy iterations of iconic horror staples than anything else. The time when we could innocently suit up in ghastly attire and go door-to-door pestering the neighbours for sweets may have passed, but Meal Exchange, a student-run charitable initiative, allows magnanimous students with a fondness for Halloween to dress up in costume and hit the streets with their Trick or Eat program.

"Trick or Eat happens on Halloween, and it gives university students the excuse to go trick-or-treating again, but with a twist," said Tala Khoury, coordinator of Meal Exchange at the St. George campus.

Instead of collecting candy, students gather canned food and other non-perishables by going door-to-door in the residential areas around campus and in the Annex. This year's proceeds will be donated to the Fort York Food Bank.

As Meal Exchange's major fundraiser, Trick or Eat rolls costumes, candy, and charity into an annual event. Last year, its 5,991 participants raised nearly nearly $23,000 and accumulated enough food for 149,112 meals.

Meal Exchange is a nationally registered, student-run charity with chapters at over 35 Canadian university campuses. Rahul Raj, a student at Wilfrid Laurier University in Waterloo, created the organization in 1993. The group aims to alleviate local poverty by raising awareness about the 2.7 million Canadians who go hungry. It runs programs and fundraisers; all proceeds are donated to local food banks.

"We want to empower students to give back to their communities, and solve the issues that plague their cities," said Khoury.

The October 31 romp through the neighbourhood as Count Orlok (or Edward Cullen) is still possible. You simply have to add a desire to make the world a better place to your childlike glee for candy and fancy dress.

If you would like to spend this Halloween touring the neighbourhood with a pillowcase full of non-perishables, visit www.mealexchange.com for more information.

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