In 2002, Christy Switzer chose to work with a small organization called Brown Bagging for Calgary’s Street Kids for her university practicum. This choice set Christy on a new adventure and helped shape BB4CK into the organization it is today. “The simplicity of it was, there are kids who are hungry and we are going to feed them. I liked that. You could do so much with that. I got involved initially in the practicum and just kind of never left,” says Christy.
At that time, Brown Bagging was small; it was operating out of the downtown kitchen creating lunches for partner organizations, like CUPS and Alpha House, supporting hungry youth living on the street. In 2005, Bob McInnis came on as the new Executive Director, and the organization started learning more about hungry students needing help in Calgary schools.
“Our mission was to feed kids that were hungry, and they were hungry in schools,” says Christy. “Schools were doing the best they could but there were no breakfast clubs, snack programs, really no other supports, so we took that on as our mission to get into schools.” That year, Brown Bagging for Calgary’s Street Kids removed street from its name and started working with Calgary schools. “When we got into schools, we grew as quickly as possible and were doing over 1,000 lunches each day within the first year or so of starting the school program.”
“One story I remember is about a child who didn’t know what a pineapple was, had never eaten a pineapple and she tried it, loved it, and wanted more and wanted to know how to spell the word, it was this big thing for her. Through the modelling of what a good lunch looked like, and from removing the weight from the family of needing to provide lunches five days a week, they started seeing healthy lunches coming two days a week from the child’s family. This school learned that the parents had the desire to send good lunches, but they wouldn’t be full, or sometimes they’d be makeshift leftovers or fast food. Once the school started providing veggies sticks, sandwiches, and fruit, home started providing sandwiches, veggie sticks and fruit.” Christy continues, “Schools would tell us that parents would call asking if there’d be lunches at school this week and they’d say yes, every week, whenever you need, and the parent would say “great, thank you, then we can have dinners.” More often than not, parents are doing the best they can and if the kids are not eating, the adult at home has not eaten for days. They are so hungry and so tired and in that positon, how do you cope?”
“I started at Brown Bagging when I was 22. My first 6 years with Brown Bagging were spent on the board, and my last 4 years were spent on staff. It was formative, it taught me If you put your hand up and are willing to do the work you don’t have to be the smartest person in the room or have all the answers. If you put your hand up you get to go do the thing. It showed me what is possible, what can happen when you are the person who raises your hand when there is work to be done,” says Christy.
Today, Christy’s company, I Know A Guy Renovations, donates 100 lunches on behalf of every renovation they do. Their team volunteers in the kitchen often, and Christy shares that “it’s so amazing to bring our trades in and expose people to something they’ve maybe not had the chance to see before. Brown Bagging is my charity of choice forever. I love it so much. I encourage other business owners to pick two or three causes that really resonate with you, go somewhere, and do something where you can see the impact and become involved in something. Get to know the organization, how it is growing and the cause. Get involved.”
Meet three of our wonderful volunteers taking action to feed and care for hungry kids in our city – Nicole, Denis, and Tony. Nicole started volunteering with BB4CK about three years ago, and has inspired her family and friends to help feed kids too!
Nicole – “I started following BB4CK on Facebook after getting involved with Mealshare. BB4CK shared a post requesting volunteer drivers so I signed up and instantly loved it. I started coordinating volunteers in the kitchen for Mealshare 2 years ago and have loved being involved and getting to know all the fabulous people that volunteer and want to do good for the kids of Calgary. It truly is a wonderful community to be part of. My favourite part of delivering lunches is knowing that this small act could be changing a kid’s circumstance. Food insecurity can create many other problems that will affect the outcome of a child’s life. That’s why I love when I see “lunch is love”. Also, selfishly, I love it because it makes me feel good. It’s very easy to get wrapped up in our own life bubble and be a bit oblivious to what’s going on around us. It’s impossible to feel bad about yourself when you are doing something good for someone else.”
Denis – “One day my daughter Nicole asked if I would be interested in coming with her to deliver lunches for BB4CK. She had been volunteering for this organization and others for some time. I had recently retired and thought this would be a good opportunity to help, and keep me off the couch. She filled me in on the tremendous need and off we went. I was amazed at how many lunches and how many volunteers are required every day. I have been trying to deliver lunches twice a week ever since. Where it really hit home, about the need for BB4CK, is one day I delivered to a high school and a young fellow greeted me at the lunch room door, took the lunch box, said thank you and immediately opened it and grabbed a sandwich. I got in my car had a few moments to myself and carried on. If anyone is looking for some fulfillment in their retirement this is the program.”
Tony – “I found out about BB4CK from my wife and her friendship with Nicole. Having retired a year and a half ago, I was looking for an organization that I could dedicate some time to and what better than BB4CK to help ensure all students have a nourishing lunch to help in their learning process. Up until I started my volunteer driver position, I had no idea that this organization existed. I’m happy to be able to help ensure that lunches get to the schools. I was flabbergasted that it has become necessary to provide the number of lunches BB4CK does on a weekly basis to ensure every student has adequate nourishment to continue to learn. The most fulfilling part of delivering is the heartfelt thanks you receive from the school staff when the bins are delivered and of course the interaction with the other volunteers and staff.”
Meet Joanne, a donor making a difference in the lives of Calgary kids:
“As a former food writer, child safety instructor, and literacy advocate, I have long been aware the situation for Calgary’s children is far from equitable. When I first got involved with BB4CK back around 2005, I was semi-retired and it was a time I looked to support projects and programs that do the practical daily work of setting things right – as best as possible. BB4CK fit the bill for my goals, then and now. Originally I delivered the big boxes of lunches to the schools with my husband and since then, have contributed through financial support. Frankly, it’s the least I can do.
I grew up in a time – yep, way back in the 50s – when our moms expected us home everyday for lunch.
BB4CK, today, does what those ‘mom’ lunches did for kids back then – fill hollow legs, refuel bodies, fire up brains for more schoolwork, and make kids feel deeply cared for.
One of the Lunch Bag Art thank you’s I saw at the BB4CK kitchen and another I received from a young student said simply: Lunch = Love. Couldn’t have put it better!
That’s what BB4CK means to me and why I’m in for the long haul.” – Joanne
Meet our two newest kitchen team members, Christa and Sam, our wonderful Kitchen Coordinators!
“I started as a volunteer in March 2018 and fell in love with Brown Bagging for Calgary’s Kids. I was looking for a volunteer opportunity and came across a friend on social media that brought his company into the BB4CK kitchen. I thought to myself WOW, that looks like a great spot to volunteer, and sent an email to BB4CK that same day!
To know that I make a difference in these children’s and young adults lives provides me with an overwhelming sense of well-being. These children who otherwise would not get lunches are provided a nutritious lunch allowing them to feel full, a sense of belonging, and one less thing to worry about in their day to day life. The kitchen is a fun, positive environment, and we all collaborate to ensure we are providing the best lunches possible to Calgary kids. My favorite part about the kitchen is all the wonderful volunteers; they take the time out from their days and donate it to make lunches. The kitchen is a fantastic way to give back to the community as well as make friends.”
Christa’s favorite lunch as a child – Back when avocados were not popular I loved an avocado and tomato sandwich with mayo, salt and pepper. I also enjoyed sliced apple with cheese. These still remain my FAVES!
“Prior to the amazing opportunity of working for Brown Bagging for Calgary’s Kids, I volunteered at BB4CK for a year and a half. I first found out about BB4CK when I met BB4CK’s Executive Director, Tanya, during a group interview for Dote Magazine’s “Girls Who Give” SS17 Editorial.
After learning more about the vision and mission of BB4CK, I knew in my heart that I wanted to help and be a part of BB4CK in some way. It was absolutely heart breaking for me to know that there were so many children in our city that went hungry each day, but it had brought me such joy knowing that in doing my little part in volunteering on the days that I could at BB4CK, I too was making such an impact and difference in fulfilling the need to feed hungry kids in Calgary. My favourite part about BB4CK is the feeling of family and purpose. I am always inspired and motivated by my co-workers and volunteers every day.
Sam’s favorite lunch as a child – My mum’s Chicken Salad sandwiches
Does taking meaningful action inspire you? Are you looking for an opportunity to make an impact in the daily life of a child? Are you passionate about creating social change, engaging with and having an impact on your community? Brown Bagging for Calgary’s Kids (BB4CK) has an opportunity for a dynamic individual to join our dedicated team!
Who we are: Brown Bagging for Calgary’s Kids (BB4CK) is a mission-focused grassroots organization, working to build and strengthen communities that ensure every child has enough to eat at school. Our team is small, working together in our areas of strength to ensure we can have broad impact in our community.
Working cohesively with the Director of Kitchen Engagement and our awesome Kitchen team, the Distribution Coordinator is an integral part of a committed, hardworking and fun team! This position is a 3 month contract with the possibility of extension. This individual will work 16 hours per week, Monday-Thursday from approximately 8:00am-12:00pm.
The Distribution Coordinator ensures the organization of food leaving the kitchen, delivery drivers and delivery routes.
A typical day for you in the role of Distribution Coordinator will include the following key responsibilities:
- Coordinate the packing of lunches (this includes training volunteers to run the packing table and transport duties independently)
- Coordinate and organize volunteer drivers
- Plan delivery routes and schedule drivers
- Work with Operations Coordinator to coordinate the distribution of additional food supports from kitchen to schools
- Deliver lunches when necessary
- Support Kitchen Operation needs and duties as needed (includes prepping lunches, organizing workspace, etc.)
This opportunity might be for you if you:
- Have the ability to organize, plan and coordinate
- Are solution-focused, resourceful, able to quickly build rapport and connection
- Strong communication skills
- Sees challenges as an opportunity
- Like to take initiative, be pro-active and make things happen
- Extremely passionate about non-profit organizations, and in particular about serving kids and families
- Experience in a small environment and wearing many hats is beneficial
BB4CK offers competitive compensation. Salary/wage will be commensurate with level of experience.
If you are looking for a purpose driven and compelling place to work, please email your cover letter and resume to email@example.com by March 15, 2019.
This position will remain open until a suitable candidate is found. We thank all applicants for their interest in BB4CK, however only those under consideration will be contacted.