One of BB4CK’s original community group founders, Lisa Tuplin has been making lunches for students in Calgary’s northwest for eight years.
Recently, her group has seen increased need for lunches at one of the four schools it serves, and so far the group has been able to manage that need. The main thing, says Tuplin, is knowing what her group can and can’t handle.
“Usually it’s just a matter of buying a bit more food and sending the new numbers to the volunteers, and then it takes a little more volunteer time,” Tuplin says. The group stores supplies and makes lunches in the commercial kitchen of the Westview Baptist Church in Ranchlands. Tuplin says the kitchen is excellent, but because it’s used by several other community groups, she has to be realistic about her group’s capacity. “It’s a busy kitchen,” Tuplin says.
A few years earlier, one of the schools Tuplin’s group served experienced a sudden spike in need — more than the group could manage. “When Terrace Road School was needing a lot more, we had to assess whether we could handle those numbers. We had limited space,” Tuplin says. Realizing her group couldn’t meet that school’s needs on its own, Tuplin worked with BB4CK to find an alternative solution. Today, Terrace Road School lunches are made by youth volunteers at Varsity Bible Church , students at William Taylor Learning Centre and the BB4CK kitchen.
The group’s origins
Tuplin’s started the group in 2007, when she became aware of the organization’s needs. “As a parent myself it tugged at my heartstrings to see a child hungry who I could help so easily,” Tuplin says.
At the time, BB4CK was exploring ways to serve schools in the city’s northwest communities better. Using a small kitchen at the Friends Church facility in Bowness, Tuplin gathered a group of volunteers and began making lunches for three schools, three days a week. The group has continued, with volunteers old and new, and Tuplin has been its manager and champion from the start. “For the impact that it’s making, it’s not a lot of work,” Tuplin says. “I’ve been doing it for so long it’s second nature, and I’ll continue doing it for as long as there’s a need and a space to do it in and volunteers to help me.”
Tuplin’s idea took hold in Calgary — today, there are approximately 20 community groups similar to Tuplin’s and another 80 school community groups making lunches for students through BB4CK.
Tuplin’s group today
The group serves four schools four days a week: Belvedere Parkway School, Bowcroft School, Our Lady of the Assumption School and H.D. Cartwright Junior High School. Three years ago the group relocated from its original Bowness kitchen to a larger, more commercial facility at Westview Baptist Church in Ranchlands.
While the group purchases groceries using BB4CK gift cards, the administration, lunch-making and distribution is organized by Tuplin and her rotating team of about 18 volunteers, which sometimes includes her own three grown children. “They’ve been really great in that way,” Tuplin says. “My daughter has just graduated as a teacher, and she’s started subbing so she’ll be in the school system and she’ll see those same needs.”
Despite the challenges, Tuplin says whenever a school contacts her to let her know their students’ needs have changed, she sees it as a positive development. “It shows me that they’re really responding and I have a good handle on what’s happening in their schools,” Tuplin says. “It tells me it’s really working.”