September 13, 2016
The following story comes from a Vice Principal at a NE Calgary Elementary/Junior High School:
“The Brown Bagging for Calgary’s Kids lunch program has been available to students for several years at our K-9 school. There are students who arrive at the school with little or no breakfast or snack or lunch. The school, through volunteers and the support of the school staff and programs such as Breakfast Clubs of Canada, The Boys and Girls Clubs FANS program, and Brown Bagging for Calgary’s Kids lunch program, provides wholesome food for the students to support them in their learning.
One student of whom I am aware is a small, shy junior high school student who is reluctant to speak in class or with her classmates. She has had poor attendance in the past and does not seek out a lunch for herself out of embarrassment of her family’s financial situation. She struggles with her own self-image in which she identifies as needing to be trim, fit and thin. The school staff have advocated for her and ensure she has something to eat each day. She is beginning to select some food at noon hour by herself when she feels safe to do so. She has the opportunity to sit with a staff member and is beginning to recognize her own strengths and is becoming more aware of the need to provide fuel for her body each day. Her emerging maturity and confidence has grown in part by recognizing her own value and dignity and by nurturing and advocating for herself.
Her attendance and grades in school have improved during the past year and she has begun to talk of her aspirations for future learning and to be able to do things for herself. Having access to a noon meal each day ensures that she is a given consistent support to grow emotionally and physically and to participate fully in her community.”
September 13, 2016
This summer, BB4CK worked with Calgary Swims For Lunch (CSFL), a group based out of the Forest Lawn Outdoor Pool. CSFL hosts a volunteer-based program to spread water safety and provide lunch to those in need during the summer months. Led by Makena Hind and Olivia Graham, ideas for the program began to take shape over the years Hind has worked in the Forest Lawn community. In the winter of 2015 Hind volunteered in the BB4CK kitchen, “it was that experience that really furthered my inspiration and dedication to develop a program,” says Hind.
Hind gathered information about the community and the number of children that access programs during the school year and found that there was an opportunity for a summer lunch program paired with an educational component. Hind’s proposal to operate CSFL out of the Forest Lawn Outdoor Pool was approved by Benchmark Projects Ltd. and the Calgary Outdoor Pool Association. Hind and Graham set to work securing community connections and raising community awareness about the program for the July 4 start date, “the local schools and social workers assisted with reaching out to the kids who could benefit from our program,” says Hind. The support continued with the aquatic staff at the Forest Lawn Outdoor Pool. “The lifeguards and instructors volunteered their time whenever needed and many reached out to family and friends to ensure we had enough volunteers each day” shares Hind.
Soon, CSFL was receiving volunteers and food donations from across the city. Working hard to access diverse food sources, CSFL utilized the Calgary Food Bank’s Food Link program, and received funding from BB4CK for staple meal items. BB4CK was able to connect CSFL and Calgary Co-op, who donated loaves of bread for sandwiches, and Leftovers, which brought fresh produce and a variety of items to the program with weekly deliveries of donated food from Market 17. “Next summer we hope to have Community Fridays where different organizations or individuals have the opportunity to sponsor a lunch for all the kids in the CSFL program” says Hind. “We were fortunate enough to have two individual and corporate donations this year. Emerald Management, and Sharon from M&M Food Market donated hotdogs and hamburgers.” In mid-July, Hind invited the Forest Lawn Calgary Boys and Girls Club to join in the swimming and lunch program and the Club’s kids participated in the program on Fridays throughout the summer. “Our partnership with the Boys and Girls Club is one we hope to continue next year” says Hind.
The program was a great success with the children who participated this summer. “The response from the kids was outstanding!” Says Hind. “They really enjoyed the opportunity to learn and practice swimming, for many it was their first opportunity to swim. There were a number of touching personal stories from some of the kids, it certainly had an impact on myself and the volunteers, which further enforced our commitment to the program. The parents and grandparents that we had the chance to speak with were thankful for the program and really seemed to enjoy watching the kids learn how to swim, and learn basic ice safety, boat safety, and water safety skills” says Hind. “The kid’s favorite lunches included pizza bagels, BBQ grilled cheese, quesadillas, and of course hamburgers and hotdogs! Thanks to the deliveries from Leftovers the kids were also able to try new foods like microgreens, arugula, and grilled eggplant.”
“I think that Calgary has a lot of untapped resources to fuel programs like CSFL. Many communities in Calgary would benefit from summer drop-in programs that offer lunch and activities! Along the CSFL journey it has become apparent to continually ask questions and ask for help! You never know who can help you bring your vision to life unless you reach out for support! CSFL began with a motivated team wanting to address hunger and drowning prevention. We had to make minimal kitchen modifications to ensure that we could provide lunch; contacting Alberta Health Services and other grassroots programs or established organizations such as BB4CK is the best way for others to gain knowledge and insight if they are interested in developing a program in their own community” shares Hind, “collaboration is key, and really made a huge difference in collecting food and resources for our program! To anyone who is looking for support starting a nonprofit, it is out there, and finding it will make the greatest difference in your program.”
Looking toward summer 2017, Hind and her team have big plans. “We hope to create more partnerships with local grocery stores, restaurants, and non-profit organizations in 2017. Our plan for the future is to provide as many lessons and lunches as we can. Hopefully next summer, we can get a few more volunteers so we can accept more participants into the program. We hope to continue having older participants help us plan lessons and menu items. As we reach older kids in the community we hope to help them develop strong swimming and leadership skills, with opportunities to take a swim instructor and/or lifeguarding course.”
September 12, 2016
Through their art, LOUD Art Society provides positive mental environments for the public and the group has shared their art and creativity with Calgary communities for the last two years. Healing, motivation, inspiration and empowerment are attributes LOUD Art Society aims to leave behind in each of their creative projects. “We create the positive environment so people can have a positive experience, a good memory when they are the viewers of our creativity,” says Tara Vahab, President and Founder of LOUD Art Society.
In July of 2015, LOUD Art Society approached BB4CK about creating a piece of art in the downtown kitchen and we enthusiastically embraced the opportunity of a new piece of art for the kitchen! Throughout the months that followed, LOUD painted one of the kitchen’s interior walls a brilliant red and created a beautiful mural in the entrance hallway of the kitchen.
Titled “That Ours Is, That Is Us,” the mural “is about our co-existence as a big family from ground all the way to the sky” says Vahab. “We tried to portray a very poetic view of this concept through the significant role of Brown Bagging for Calgary’s Kids in our city. This mural is LOUD Art Society’s way of admiring and appreciating BB4CK’s contribution towards a better Calgary, while simultaneously enhancing their environment by creating a more positive one for the staff, residents and all the visitors of this building. Our hope is to make everyone a little happier!”
The mural features Calgary’s skyline and a large tree that has many birds, flowers and friends nestled in it’s branches, backed by a stunning blue sky. Next time you are at the kitchen be sure to take a moment to view and explore our stunning mural, and see if you can find all the little BB4CK brown bags hidden in the mural’s branches!
The mural is a wonderful addition to the kitchen and greets all our visitors and volunteers with joy and bright colours and we are so incredibly grateful for this beautiful gift from LOUD Art Society!
September 9, 2016
We are grateful for the support of the Calgary media, each story shared helps to raise awareness about childhood hunger in our city and inspires people to take action to feed and care for Calgary kids.
Click the links below to read the stories that have helped raise awareness about hunger in Calgary this back to school season:
Kids Impacted Daily
People Volunteering Weekly
Partners and Donors