“My mom had me when she was young, and my brother came 2 years after. Her and my Dad split up when I was about two and that time was really rough for my mom. She tried her best, but began struggling with substance abuse when I was in grade 3.
Many school days we wouldn’t have sufficient lunches. Some days it would be a bag of crackers and cheese, and other days we didn’t have anything to eat.
It was embarrassing to go to school without lunch, when my mom did pack me lunch sometimes I wouldn’t even want to pull it out of my bag because people would look at me weird. I would wait until recess and scarf it down real quick. I would almost worry about that more than being hungry sometimes. I didn’t really have a lot of friends, I was unhealthily underweight, and I was sick all the time.
The teachers stepped in and without making a big deal of it, they started giving my brother and I lunches. The teachers never made me feel different that I was a Brown Bagging kid. I remember my lunch teacher, Ms. Yang, who looked out for me. We were getting full lunches every day and sometimes she would put extra stuff in my bag for me to take home, like extra lunches or something she had brought for us herself. In grade 4, I was diagnosed with epilepsy. I had a big seizure in the school lunchroom and Ms. Yang was the one who found me, she took me to the office, sat with me, and made sure I was ok.
Lunch was one of the things I didn’t have to worry about when I was having seizures in class or coming to school without clean clothes. Lunch was never something I had to think about twice. I didn’t feel different on that one because there were so many other kids that had Brown Bag lunches too. I lived with my Dad after grade six, I was eating more and put on weight, and I wasn’t sick all the time, my lice was gone, I was able to make friends, move forward and my life completely changed. My mom changed for the better too, she’s done so much for herself. Our relationship has improved with work, you need to be able to let go of the past instead of holding onto it. This program is not just helping the kids; it is showing the parents that you can get back up with a little bit of help.
It is really important to show this act of kindness to kids. It’s not just about getting a lunch, it’s showing that there’s a whole community of people out there who are doing this because they care.
The lunches and the Brown Bagging program are not something I grew up thinking about, but now looking back, I think of how much of an impact those acts of kindness had. I can’t say if they changed me for who I am, but I choose to hold on to what those people did for me instead of what the kids were saying. I choose to hold on to the fact that people are out there that care about you. They were getting me lunches and feeding me and making sure I was going to make it ok.
As an adult now, coming out of that, I know there were a lot of people who went out of their way to do nice things for me and I’d like to give that back now.
So many people need help and I can do my part. I want to help people, specifically kids, kids who don’t know how to deal with these things growing up. I’ve been an EMR [Emergency Medical Responder] for a year now and I’m working on gaining more experience, and going for my PCP [Primary Care Paramedic] in January.
It doesn’t matter whatever is going on at home. A kid needs a lunch and that’s it. To all the people giving lunches, you’re doing a great thing, it’s real, it’s even bigger than that for these kids. They are so small and don’t know all that is being done to help them, but they will. It’s important to hold on to that and keep this going because we grow up, we remember, and we’re going to do things to help people too.” – Tearin
Donate now to feed and care for kids like Tearin.
Since September, each month a new limited #LUNCHBAGLOVE chari-tee is released, showcasing brown bag artwork created by students and volunteers on each shirt. A collaboration with DIAMONDS IN THE ROUGH ORIGINALS (D.I.T.R.O), $5 from the sale of every #LUNCHBAGLOVE t-shirt goes directly to feeding kids through BB4CK!
Meet December’s #LUNCHBAGLOVE chari-tee artist, Lora, one our amazing core kitchen volunteers!
“I love volunteering at BB4CK for several reasons. Meeting other volunteers and staff with the same mindset and goal is very encouraging and this overwhelmingly positive community we form is very energizing to be a part of. Like most volunteers, we love that what we make and prep in the mornings will be enjoyed within a few hours. There is no question where our efforts are going and this direct impact for the kids is very motivating to keep doing what we’re doing. And it’s a fantastic way to start the morning! It’s upsetting and sad to understand that there are many kids in our very own city who go to school without knowing where their next meal will come from. While as individuals, we may not have all the solutions or manpower, we can at the very least come and give a bit of our time to make sure a child is fed today. If more of us just give a little bit of ourselves to something we believe in, there’s no telling how much we can achieve together.”
Favourite Lunch? Oh, definitely my usual pea butter & jam sammie. Can’t beat Mom and Dad’s home cooking, too
December’s brown bag artwork is titled “Peace of Mind: I Can Be Me!”
To order your #LUNCHBAGLOVE tee visit ditroriginals.com/shop.
“I don’t even know these guys but I love them.”
Located one block east of Macleod Trail in SE Calgary is Jerome’s Appliance Gallery, a luxury appliance retailer. Their Bistro features two fully functional kitchens, and a group of people passionate about taking action to end hunger in our city.
Once a week Devon, Jerome’s Accounting Manager, and Kristen, Jerome’s Bistro Specialist, prepare lunches for students at West View School at Calgary Youth Attendance Centre (CYAC), located only a few blocks away. Jerome’s purchases all the food for the lunches and Kristen shares her amazing cooking skills to create an array of delectable meals.
“Food is medicine; food is what makes our bodies work properly, what is better than giving kids a proper start with whole food?”
“On Wednesdays I come into work early,” shares Kristen, “I have all my groceries and ingredients and I like to do a lot of baking too so I come in early and make cookies, muffins, things that are healthy and whole foods but still appeal to teenagers. I’ll get everything prepped, Devon will come in and we will cook for about 16 people or so, sandwiches, wraps, baked goods, pizzas, soups, chili, whatever we make that day we make it all from scratch that morning and have it ready to go for lunch.” Kristen continues, “It’s so easy to take time out of your day for something like this, for something so simple you can make a huge difference. Food is medicine; food is what makes our bodies work properly, what is better than giving kids a proper start with whole food? You’re supporting their systems as they grow, supporting their brains, it’s everything, we’re trying to give them a better start, a better base to go on.”
“West View School at Calgary Youth Attendance Centre (CYAC) is a small, personalized school that provides opportunities for justice-engaged youth to explore career possibilities and complete a high school diploma. Two dedicated, veteran Calgary Board of Education teachers, supported by Solicitor General staff, deliver curricula, provide trades and career opportunities, and mentor youth,” shares West View Program Teacher Mary-Lynn. “Around 10:00 a.m., our students start asking, ‘What’s for lunch today?’ When we say it’s coming from Jerome’s, so it’s a surprise, they start to guess with each other what it might be. We love getting food from Jerome’s. This is a high-impact community builder. We have long said that youth will come for the food, but stay for the education. We are grateful that Jerome’s makes the menu interesting and healthy for our students.”
The Jerome’s team is an amazing supporter of the BB4CK community. In addition to their community group, the Jerome’s community has planned and supported fundraisers, volunteered in the kitchen, and participated as a summer Food Finder site. “When you’re thinking about supporting a charity, look local, support your own community, support people, your friends, coworkers, neighbours. If you donate money you know where that money is going, if you donate time, you are able to see what that time creates and where it goes,” says Devon. “Donating your time too is such a different feeling knowing you can do these things and make a positive impact on somebody’s life. Support a local charity that you can invest a lot into. It’s very rewarding.”
“These kids could be my son’s friends, his classmates…”
“Having a child myself really made me feel connected to the cause and made me feel these kids could be my son’s friends, his classmates, they could be his teammates and those kids are going without things we take for granted so much, it hit home for me,” says Devon. “It’s such a small thing for us to do and it makes such a big difference for the kids, which I think is what makes BB4CK such a great cause.”
Stockings Filled with Love and Care
The connection Jerome’s has created with West View at CYAC has led to more than lunches. “Last Christmas we decided to put together some stockings for the students,” shares Devon. “Kristen and I went out on a little mission, we went to the dollar store, to Tim Hortons, and we loaded the stockings full. Every kid wants to get candy and chocolate in their stockings so we got that but we also incorporated the things they would need like toiletries, toques, gloves, mitts, socks, things they’d need working outside, since a lot of them are going into the trades. We thought about what they would really like and also really need and we put it all together into a stocking, we hand decorated the stockings with their names in glitter pens and delivered them along with the lunches that day. Just to see their expressions and gratitude they felt, it was emotional and made it all worth it.”
“As we were driving back, I turned to Devon and said, “I don’t even know these guys but I love them.” They were so excited and so grateful, watching them open the stockings and look at everything, and just seeing their eyes light up was my emotional moment,” shares Kristen.
Learn more about getting your business involved here.
“I remember the Monday everything changed.
I was 8 years old. I sat in the corner of the lunchroom, head down, trying to be invisible. My stomach hurt and my head ached.
I was hungry, and a BB4CK lunch changed that. This is why I’m forever grateful for you.
On this particular Monday, the lunchroom supervisor, Mrs. Porter noticed me. She saw that none of the other kids were talking to me. She watched as everyone dug into their lunch – everyone except me. She looked at me sitting alone in the corner, trying to ignore everyone else eating. She knew I was craving their food, and also, their friendship.
I was hungry and lonely and wishing one of the other kids would share their lunch with me.
I was the only kid in my class without a lunch. I was also the only one with shoes one size too small, and a torn and tattered backpack. I was different – and different meant I had no friends.
That is, until Mrs. Porter noticed me.
I don’t know much about her, but that day, in my 3rd grade mind, Mrs. Porter was a superhero.
This was just another Monday with nothing to eat. Sitting in the corner, I was counting down the minutes until I could go back to my classroom. Then, a voice, “Is your name Jennifer?” I looked up and into the eyes of Mrs. Porter. She gave me a small smile and held out a sandwich in a plastic bag.
“Would you like an egg salad sandwich?” she offered.
My eyes must have said it all, because before I squeaked out “Yes”, she had placed it in my hands. It was the best sandwich I had ever eaten – and with it came a couple carrots, some apple slices, and a homemade cheese biscuit.
Every day after that, when I walked into the lunchroom, Mrs. Porter was waiting for me with a lunch and a kind word. I noticed that other kids sometimes got a lunch from Mrs. Porter too. One day, Mrs. Porter asked if I’d like to sit with her and Alina. Mrs. Porter asked about our days, our school work, and our families, while Alina and I ate our egg salad sandwiches together.
I was no longer hungry, and I had made a new friend. That’s why I’m grateful for you and BB4CK.
The lunch that Mrs. Porter gave me every day came from BB4CK. She told me that each lunch was made by someone who cared for me and wanted me to succeed. That lunch was more than just a sandwich to me. That lunch gave me a sense of belonging and a full stomach.
Now, thinking back to all those years ago, I am deeply grateful for the difference you made in my life. Those lunches gave me hope. They changed everything.”
*Based on a true story
Meet Rose and Barb, two of our amazing volunteer drivers who deliver lunches to hungry kids across the city!
“My name is Rose and I am a delivery driver for Brown Bagging for Calgary’s Kids. I have been volunteering with BB4CK for about 6 years now. I started because my sister [Cathy] works there, and I would come to the kitchen with her and help out wherever there was a need to make sure no kids go hungry. I really enjoyed it and realized that helping others was something I liked to do. I pick up lunches from a community kitchen group that feeds 6 schools in our neighborhood. I started delivery driving over 2 years ago and the best part is meeting the school staff, stopping to chat and hearing how these lunches are so appreciated and impact kids in need. I look forward to delivering as it always brings a smile to my face and I am very thankful that I am able to do this to help someone in need, at this point in my life.”
“I drive lunches to schools Thursday mornings along with my assistants Pat, my husband, and my best [furry] friends Cooper and Finn. By chance, I saw info about BB4CK on TV and thought it might be a perfect volunteer job for me-and it definitely is! This is our third year with Brown Bagging. Time flies. As a retired teacher I understand how important nutrition is for a child’s ability to learn. Being hungry should never be an obstacle in any child’s learning. My favourite part of delivering lunches is walking into schools and feeling the energy within. Quick encounters with students and staff remind me that schools are busy, vibrant, and focused on the education of our children.” – Barb