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What Coronavirus means for BB4CK and Calgary’s hungry kids

What Coronavirus means for BB4CK and Calgary’s hungry kids


With the arrival of Coronavirus in Calgary, BB4CK and our groups of volunteers are taking steps to ensure we stay safe and can continue to feed Calgary’s hungry kids.

We are taking the following steps to ensure the safety of our staff, volunteers and the kids we feed:

We are closely monitoring the situation and government response. We will provide updates to our community as required and ensure that we are keeping within Alberta Health Services guidelines.

We are reiterating our request that anyone, regardless of their symptoms, does not come to the Kitchen if they are feeling unwell.

We are implementing a 14 day working from home policy for all staff returning from travel outside of Canada, or staff who have come in contact with a person who has a confirmed or probable case of COVID-19. We are also asking volunteers to not come to the Kitchen if they meet this criteria.

We are re-evaluating and stepping up our sanitizing procedures in every space where lunches are made – this includes our downtown kitchen and our community groups.

We are washing our hands (a lot, all the time…), and refraining from physical contact (elbow bumps are great!).

The extended implications of the Coronavirus are unknown as yet, but as the problem spreads we expect that there will be greater pressure put on families to support and provide for their children. This will likely result in more, not fewer, hungry kids across our city, and we know that our community will step up to help and support these families over the coming months.

We are so grateful to have the support of our community, and we are thankful for the proactive nature of our staff and volunteers – together we can weather this storm and make sure no kids go hungry.

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No kids go hungry – SAIT Students Giving Back

No kids go hungry – SAIT Students Giving Back


BB4CK works with schools, community groups and volunteers to ensure that over 229 schools across Calgary are provided with lunch for hungry kids. Some of these schools are supported by incredible community groups – this is one of their stories:

SAIT Culinary Arts Association students are stepping up every week to provide delicious and nutritious lunches for our local #YYC kids. They volunteer for this every week, and are supported by SAIT, using their kitchen and facilities. Why? Here’s a few of their stories:


Laura, the lead of the SAIT Culinary Arts Association’s BB4CK Partnership:

“I got involved in BB4CK through the SAIT Culinary Arts Association. I had been looking for an opportunity for the students to get involved in the broader Calgary community throughout this school year. When Chef Andrew Hewson approached me about finding volunteers for BB4CK, I knew it would be the perfect fit for us. We already have the facilities and proper AHS licensing to produce food, and not only would we be doing service for the community, but this gives us a regularly scheduled event that is hugely beneficial to provide continuity for the Culinary Arts Association.

It is great to have the opportunity to cook for a diverse population and learn about what type of food is required for different purposes. Often, for extra-curricular cooking events, we make elevated fine-dining dishes. While these are fun to do sometimes, I believe there is significant value that comes from preparing simple, wholesome food that comes from the heart. This partnership proves to students that a meal can be as simple as a sandwich and a serving of vegetables and fruit and still meaningful and important to make.

Every time we make lunches for BB4CK, we always have an abundance of students wanting to help out, everyone has a fantastic time while they are in the kitchen, and they leave happier than when they arrived. Doing this kind of service not only feeds the community, but it feeds the souls of those who volunteer.

Put simply; I volunteer for BB4CK because I believe in the importance of strong communities and good food.”


Ashleigh, a regular SAIT Culinary Arts Association volunteer, and a previous recipient of some BB4CK love (and food)!

“Well I have had the opportunity to volunteer years ago at the downtown kitchen making sandwiches but what really drew me to doing this and joining in on this wonderful project was the support you guys give to Calgary as a whole. You guys fed me through high school at Westbrook Discovering Outreach while I was trying to graduate and it was the one thing that kept me going there to get work done.

I still believe to this day that the one important thing to make the world a better place is to give that support however it may be to the younger generations since they will be the ones to carry on. Connection and giving back are two things I really value. So giving back to you guys, the ones who helped me in a time of need, it’s only right to start here. And being giving the opportunity to start this with SAIT Baking has been a huge honour that I hope to continue into our 2nd year.”


Chloe, a regular SAIT Culinary Arts Association volunteer: 

“I started volunteering for BB4CK when my classmate; Ashleigh asked us if a few of us if we would like to help out make baked goods for lunches for kids that don’t have access to a proper lunch to get them through the day.

Volunteering with BB4CK reminds me of all the times I volunteered with Boys and Girls Club of Red Deer and District. Being able to work alongside other students in the Baking and Cooking programs that help out BB4CK is a wonderful experience. Helping BB4CK makes me feel happy and it feels great giving back to the community when its needed most.


Cecilia, a regular SAIT Culinary Arts Association volunteer: 

“I’ve always loved the part about baking where I get to see other peoples’ expressions when presented with baked goods.  The joy that can come from an unexpected gift is immense and incredible, and it fills my own heart with joy.  In the kitchen, it’s harder to see that expression on peoples’ faces, but I know they still get excited when they purchase their delicious desserts – it’s dessert after all!

Ashleigh asked for my help in volunteering for this organization, so I was helping her as a friend before I even knew what I was baking for.  It gives me joy to know that those cookies we’re making are going to BB4CK, an organization that will make less fortunate kids even more happy than my baking alone could do otherwise.  I hadn’t heard of this organization previously (as I mentioned before, I was originally doing this to help out Ashleigh), but I’m so glad to now be a part of it, making kids happy from behind the scenes in the kitchen.”


To everyone who volunteers with us (and bakes those delicious, delicious oatmeal cookies!!) thank you! You are truly working towards a future where no kids go hungry.

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No kids go hungry – Changing Lives

No kids go hungry – Changing Lives


BB4CK works with schools, community groups and volunteers to ensure that over 200 schools across Calgary are provided with lunch for hungry kids. These are some of our stories:

The lunches we provide to kids in need are so much more than a lunch. They are a tool for connection. They help to bridge gaps, build trust, and foster community and caring within our schools. Sam’s story is just one example of how a lunch can pave the path to a brighter future.

As a brand new high school in Calgary’s far SE neighbourhood of Seton, the staff at started their school year in September not knowing any of their students. Starting a school year with hundreds of new students was challenging for many different reasons. One main challenges staff faced was not knowing which students required support or how they could support those in need. 

Mary, a guidance counsellor in the School’s Student Success Centre, was quick to identify that some students were arriving to school without a lunch in their backpacks. Mary reached out to BB4CK and working together, we made sure that the school had the resources necessary to provide lunches to kids in need. The Student Success Centre started making lunches for hungry students and within a few months they were feeding over 20 kids. Slowly, the school staff were able to get to know these students on a more personal level. One particular student – Sam – became a daily visitor to the Student Success Centre. Sam was reserved and withdrawn, but she was always so appreciative and happy to be able to enjoy the food provided through the BB4CK lunch program.

As Sam grew to trust Mary and the other staff at the Student Success Centre, she started to open up. She quickly became a frequent visitor to Mary’s office, sometimes several times a day, and Mary and Sam developed a strong rapport. Mary came to learn that Sam required a lot of more support – not only did she have limited access to healthy meals at home, but she was dealing with social and emotional problems that were impacting her learning and self-confidence.

To get Sam more engage, Mary asked her if she would be willing to help with the lunch program. Sam was more than happy to help. Sam has been the school’s one consistent, reliable student volunteer – helping to make lunches for the majority of the second semester. Mary says, “it has been heartwarming to watch this student transition from a rather quiet, struggling student to an out-going, more confident individual who is more than willing to give back to her school”. Sam is working with Mary to deal with the barriers she faces, her belly is full, and she now has connection to a community that cares for her and that she can rely on.

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No kids go hungry – Mental Health & Lunch

No kids go hungry – Mental Health & Lunch


BB4CK works with schools, community groups and volunteers to ensure that over 200 schools across Calgary are provided with lunch for hungry kids. These are some of our stories:

Ms. Lust is a teacher at a local Calgary High School. She works in a classroom tailored for students with complex mental health challenges. Each child in her class suffers from a mental health diagnoses and most are not getting their basic needs met at home – this includes food and sleep – two of the primary foundations for mental health management. Brown Bagging for Calgary’s Kids has been working with the school’s staff and teachers since 2014 to ensure their students are not spending the school day hungry. BB4CK provides funding to support the school lunch program and teachers like Ms. Lust use this funding to purchase food and make lunches at the school. Their efforts are entirely voluntary but they give their time and energy because they recognize the importance nutrition and food can have on a child’s health, education, and future. Here are a few impact stories Ms. Lust shared with us. She emphasized that BB4CK’s resources are used daily in her classroom with much gratitude for this resource:

Ms. Lust uses some of the funding to make a big bowl of cereal trail mix for her students to snack on throughout the day. This food has become quite a fun topic of discussion in her class. The students barter and pick out their favourite items or trade what they like the most. More importantly, this bowl of trail mix has become a tool for building friendships and community in her program – something that is particularly important for kids who have often been stigmatized because of their circumstances.

Amy is one of Ms. Lust’s students. Her home circumstances are far from ideal and she has recently received independent student status, even though she is not yet 18.  Amy is a bright young leader who has faced both physical and emotional abuse in her home since she can remember.  She suffers from depression, mostly due to her home circumstances.  This year, she had the courage and strength to move out and gets very little money to live each month. Amy still continues to attend school, and because of the BB4CK lunch program, she has food to eat everyday. Having access to food in the classroom ensures that Amy won’t be hungry throughout the day.  She is so thankful for this food. It’s one less thing Amy needs to worry about and instead she can focus on her education and graduating next year.

Another student, Jay, often arrives to school on an empty stomach and without food in his backpack. He loves the granola bars and sandwiches he has access to in the classroom. He expresses sometimes that these are the only things he eats in a day – and that he doesn’t always get dinner at home. 

Shawna comes from a low-income home. Living in poverty not only means limited access to food but that often cheap, unhealthy foods are the only option. Shawna, like many other kids living in poverty, is facing physical health and dental challenges that are a result of poor nutrition. She recently had a tooth infection and because of the pain, couldn’t eat hard foods. Her family didn’t have enough money to buy special foods for her to eat so she was coming to school hungry.  Ms. Lust was able to use BB4CK lunch program funding to provide her with some soup and noodles to help fill her stomach.



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No kids go hungry – A School’s Perspective

No kids go hungry – A School’s Perspective


BB4CK works with schools, community groups and volunteers to ensure that over 200 schools across Calgary are provided with lunch for hungry kids. These are some of our stories:

“I have worked with the Calgary Board of Education for 37 years.

It is only since Brown Bagging for Calgary’s Kids began that I have witnessed the amazing change in students of all ages from a simple thing like a sandwich and a snack.

There have been students hiding at lunch so nobody sees they don’t have any food; students not attend school because they have no food for snack or lunch; students (many) who steal food from other students’ backpacks when they are pretending to go to the washroom (comes down to basic survival); students who have taken food off of teacher’s desks; many students who go home knowing they will not have anything to eat until they come back to school the next day; the list could go on and on.

I had a family that the kids had to take turns eating… whoever got a lunch did not get supper, then the next day it was the other child’s turn to have lunch, but not supper, because he had supper the day before. It is so heartbreaking to actually be with these kids, see their tears,and you try to do anything you can to change their life.

On the other side of the coin… I have had mothers come to me so thankful for feeding their children (I always tell them the story of Brown Bagging and the volunteers). I would tell them that one day they would be able to help someone in need, all they have to do is pay it forward when they were able to. They always responded that they definitely would. A lunch changes more than a hungry tummy. I have seen such changes; previous students become the mothers of present students and they always comment on what a difference the lunches made to them and how the lunches made them feel. Many have told me they donate to the food banks because they were looked after when they were hungry. I would suggest they donate to Brown Bagging as well. This is one way we change society for the better.

Once we were able to look after their basic need of food, we began to see the change that it made in these children. The stealing stopped; the students started coming to school regularly; students who would hide and not speak to anyone transformed into well-adjusted students that socialized with other students, talked to the adults in the building, and began learning!! Teachers could not believe the difference they saw in the classroom.

Food is one of our basic needs of life and without it, there is no learning, no socialization, and it affects the confidence of students because they feel they do not fit in –they see all the other children at lunch, happy, sitting with their friends and excited about what they have in their lunch kit. A student without any food would never put themselves in a position to be in the lunchroom around those happy students eating lunches.

Brown Bagging for Calgary’s Kids, the volunteers, and most of all the people who make it possible for Brown Bagging to exist are all unsung heroes! You have no idea what a difference a little lunch makes to a hungry tummy. Like I said, food is such a basic need and children going to school hungry but expected to learn is a tragedy.”- N.E. Calgary School Administrator


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