You’ve probably noticed the cost of your groceries going up in the last year, especially the prices of your favourite fruits and vegetables. We’ve all felt the impact of those changes – Kerry’s family is no different.
Kerry is a mom of two – Jonah, who’s in grade 4, and Sam, grade 6. Kerry is now paying more each month for the same groceries she’s always bought, and that her kids love to eat. Earlier this year, Kerry lost her job and after a few months of searching found a new one – but the salary was much lower and she had depleted a good portion of her savings.
With this salary, Kerry’s cut back on a lot of expenses, which has been hard – and one of those cuts was to her grocery budget. She’s still able to send a sandwich to school for her kids, but most days, that’s it. Kerry constantly worries about what the future holds for her family and the possibility that car trouble, home maintenance, or some other financial emergency will wipe her entire budget out.
Jonah and Sam’s school cares for their family by providing fresh fruits and vegetables at school, provided by the BB4CK community. We know the value of ensuring that lunches for kids who would otherwise go without have lots of nutritious, filling food. When they get to school, Jonah and Sam eat the sandwich their Mom, Kerry, made with love at home, alongside the bright orange carrots, crunchy apples and juicy oranges people like you provided for them. These foods are so important for kids whose families, like Kerry’s, are struggling to make ends meet.
The number of kids in need of lunches at school in Calgary has risen, alongside food prices, in the past few years. Today, there are more than twice as many children in need of healthy lunches or fresh lunch items at school each day than there were three years ago – and the BB4CK community works to respond to the needs of these kids each day.
This school year, the average lunch BB4CK provides to a hungry kid in our city will cost $2 to make and deliver. Rising food costs and a growing organization have contributed to this. We’re extremely proud to be able to provide a healthy, filling lunch for just $2 – ensuring we continue to feed and care for hungry Calgary kids. Together, we will meet the goal of having no hungry kids at school this year.
This year, your support will ensure that every kid in our city has a healthy lunch at school. You can be part of the BB4CK community – volunteer, donate or hold a project that will make a lasting difference in the lives of Calgary families
Have you ever been hungry? Genuinely hungry – the kind of hungry where your stomach growls, then starts to feel empty and hollow? The kind of hungry where you know you’re hungry, but your stomach is past the point of hurting? So hungry that all your thoughts center on food, what you could eat, and where you could get it?
Every day, 4,200 kids walk through the doors of Calgary schools without enough food in their backpacks or money to buy lunch. Some students bring no food at all, while others bring a granola bar for lunch, or a piece of bread with margarine on it to get them through the day. The short term and long term effects of hunger for children are clear. These kids experience lower grades in school, fewer friendships, behavioural challenges, and mental health concerns.
Kids who don’t have access to the food they need can’t focus in class and struggle academically. Many times, children and youth who do not have access to food do not come to school at all, with much higher than average rates of being absent and missing classes. (Kleinman et al. 2002)
A student who doesn’t have lunch can miss out on one of the most valuable social experiences of school by not enjoying a meal in the cafeteria with all their friends. Being the only kid at the table without food does not feel good, so kids most often avoid it and miss the opportunity to develop friendships and healthy social skills. Instead, these students may be found hiding in a stairwell or bathroom until their friends finish eating.
Behavioural challenges often arise for kids who are hungry. Unable to calm their grumbling stomachs, and fearful of not knowing when and where they will get food, these kids may act in ways that can be surprising and unexpected. School staff tell us that kids who are hungry are more likely to act out against their friends or teachers, get into altercations or disrupt class. In desperation, some students will take food from anywhere in the school that they can find it. Studies tell us that kids who are hungry are 7 to 12 times as likely to experience serious behavioral problems as other kids. (Kleinman et al. 1998; 5 of 6)
Hunger often equals a lack of adequate nutrition, impacting the ability of children to develop to be as healthy as possible. Teachers share stories about students who are exhausted, lethargic, unable to join in recess games or during gym class – all because they are not getting the food they need to power their growing bodies.
Finally, kids who experience hunger are more at risk of mental health concerns, with depression and suicide risk both increasing for children and teens who have experienced hunger. (Alaimo, Olson, Frongillo 2002; McIntyre et al. 2013)
Parents are doing the very best they can with the resources they have to raise healthy and happy kids. They do not wake up in the morning with the intention of their children going hungry. When a parent isn’t able to send their child to school with a healthy lunch, this can cause great stress and distress. There are hundreds of reasons that families find themselves in these situations, from layoffs to illness. No two stories are exactly alike, although there is a common thread – most families never dreamt they’d have to wonder about where their next meal is coming from.
The reality of hunger is not easy. It is painful. It is isolating. It is overwhelming and crushing, and it impacts every moment of every day for someone who is experiencing it.
The reality of hunger is that it hurts, and that the solution is simple.
The solution to hunger is food.
Every school day, the BB4CK community comes together to make and deliver lunches for kids who would otherwise go without. Ensuring that kids have the food they need to satisfy their hunger, to fill their stomachs and fuel their bodies, is a simple solution that our community provides every school day.
That’s where you come in. You can feed these kids. Donate today to help ensure no kids in our city ever have to go hungry at school.
Alaimo, Katherine, Christine M. Olson, Edward A. Frongillo. 2002. “Community and International Nutrition Family Food Insufficiency, but Not Low Family Income , Is Positively Associated with Dysthymia and Suicide Symptoms in Adolescents.” Journal of Nutrition. 132:719–25.
Kleinman, Ronald E. J. Michael Murphey, Michelle Little, Maria Pagano, Cheryl A. Wehler, Kenneth Regal, Michael S. Jellinek. 1998. “Hunger in Children in the United Steates: Potential Behavioral and Emotional Correlates.” 101(1).
Kleinman, R. E., S. Hall, H. Green, D. Korzec-Ramirez, K. Patton, M. Pagano, J.M. Murphey. 2002. “Diet, Breakfast, and Academic Performance in Children.” Annals of nutrition & metabolism 46(0 1):24–30.
McIntyre, Lynn, Jeanne V. A. Williams, Dina H. Lavorato, Scott Patten. 2013. “Depression and Suicide Ideation in Late Adolescence and Early Adulthood Are an Outcome of Child Hunger.” Journal of Affective Disorders 150(1):123–29. Retrieved (http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.jad.2012.11.029).
Sophie is one of the kids who you buy lunch for. Sophie now receives lunch every day from the BB4CK Kitchen, made and delivered by a volunteer.
Sophie is 9 years old. She’s small for her age, the smallest in her class, and has long blonde hair. She’s a great reader, and struggles a little bit in math. Sophie’s favourite game at recess is tag.
Last Tuesday, before Sophie walked to school, she opened the fridge one last time – hoping to see more than the wrinkled apple she’d shoved in her bag earlier. It was empty. As she walked through the school doors, her friends yelling around her, Sophie tried to ignore the hunger pangs.
Outside for morning recess, everyone played tag – but Sophie sat on the grass, watching. She was too tired to play today, having not eaten since lunch yesterday.
It might surprise you that Sophie could be hungry at a school in Calgary – but it’s true.
The truth is, there are thousands of hungry kids right here in our city. Every day, 4,200 kids in Calgary go to school without a healthy lunch. With your help, every one of them will continue to get the food they need, made by a volunteer and delivered right to their school. You can help feed them by making a donation right now.
When the lunch bell rang on Tuesday, Sophie pulled that old wrinkled apple out of her backpack. She took a bite, making sure to enjoy every morsel – and her teacher noticed. “Hey, Sophie. Would you like a turkey sandwich to go with that apple? And maybe some carrot sticks, and a granola bar?”
The food that Sophie ate that day, and will eat every day that she needs it, will be purchased with money from donors like you. Your gift will be used by volunteers to make healthy lunches and to fill Sophie’s stomach. In fact, your support will ensure healthy lunches are available at school for Sophie any time she needs it. She’ll get that food from a teacher she trusts, and it will have the energy to focus and learn with a full stomach.
Will you help feed Sophie and other kids like her? You will make sure she has the healthy, filling lunch she needs to learn, grow and play – like every 3rd grader should be able to.
$1 helps provide a healthy lunch for a hungry child. Any donation you make will help.
Please click here to make a gift and feed hungry kids today.
“I have been a teacher for 21 years, teaching Kindergarten to Grade 6. There have always been tough times for my students and their families, but I have always been fortunate to have resources available to meet the immediate needs. Life has changed a lot in those 21 years, and I unfortunately witnessed one of the hardest moments ever in my teaching career.
It was a Thursday after school when I saw his mom outside waiting for her boys. Looking sullen, defeated and just done, she called me over to talk. “I won’t be sending the boys to school tomorrow. I don’t have any food to send them for snack or lunch. I’m sorry. I know they need to be here. I just don’t have the energy to walk them here.”
I didn’t know what to say. How do you express to a mom that you understand when you have no idea what it is like not to be able to feed your children? I told her to trust me, that I would get food for her boys to eat at school tomorrow, and we would have food to send home for them too. Not knowing her well as it was only the first month of school, I hoped she could see my sincerity and concern and know I would not let her down. She hesitantly agreed.
I put out an all call to our staff asking for an overnight food drive for this family. My next step was contacting Brown Bagging for Calgary’s Kids to make sure this never happened again. They immediately responded and within a few short days, had food arriving at our school for students in need.
The behaviour of this particular student changed dramatically within two days! He went from a boy who could not focus and cried every day to a boy who was smiling, playing with friends, and getting work done! Every day he knew he could go upstairs to get food and never had to be hungry again. His mom contacted me about a week after Brown Bagging for Calgary’s Kids started at our school, thanking me for making sure her boys were never hungry.
I later found out that their mom was not eating at all in order for her three boys at home to have enough food. It was only when she literally ran out of all food sources did she finally admit that she could not feed her family. I’m so thankful that she found the courage to ask for help and the bravery to accept the help.
Thank you Brown Bagging for Calgary’s Kids and all your donors for recognizing the need we have in our schools – you have truly made a difference!”
“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
A lovely note from a wonderful administrator at a S.W. Elementary School:
“Our students know if they don’t have a lunch, forget a lunch, don’t have enough to eat, etc… they can approach our lunch room supervisors and get something to eat. This takes pressure off a student who might be embarrassed to ask, because the students know its okay to access the sandwiches – that is what they are there for!
Brown Bagging provides food for some students who might otherwise have nothing to eat, the students are grateful. They are able to go back to class in the afternoon and concentrate better.
Thanks SO much! Thanks also to your volunteers who deliver our bins every Monday and Wednesday. They are always so cheerful and friendly.”
“Our school’s BB4CK program supports a 10-year-old boy named Aiden*, who I have had the pleasure of working with for the last 4 years. Being a School Administrator I have a little more of an inside scoop to the families who really need and benefit from the lunches we get from Brown Bagging for Calgary’s Kids.
Aiden struggles a little, especially because I know there are struggles with food at home, and every day he comes for a morning snack, afternoon snack, and gets lunches from the school. It is amazing to see how much more he can focus when he is not hungry and how much his behaviour and attitude changes once he enjoys a snack and/or a sandwich from the lunchroom.
Aiden’s favourite sandwich is turkey, but he will switch it up to ham or pea butter and jam here and there. Aiden also really enjoys the different fruits and vegetables he gets to snack on as well, and the odd treat! Aiden said his favourite thing about Brown Bagging is that the lunches help him stay full which helps him focus, but at the same time they are healthy and make him feel good overall.
We are so grateful to have Brown Bagging lunches at the school because Aiden is not the only one that feels this way. Our students benefit greatly from these lunches and I can tell the families are also thankful their children are fed and have a healthy lunch when they may not be able to.”
“Thank you from the bottom of our hearts for the kindness and generosity all of you provide to our families. From the wonderful lunches and snacks to the kind delivery staff, everyone is fantastic! We depend on your help and you always go above and beyond. Thank you!
Brown Bagging helps some of our school’s families on a daily basis as well as our families who may just need the help every now and then. We are also able to provide the hungry students with a healthy snack for recess in the morning thanks to Brown Bagging. A grade 5 student who loves to get a cheese and turkey sandwich shared with us that, “we cannot afford to have sandwiches like this at home.” Another grade 5 student let us know that without lunch from the office he would go home for lunch and not eat. This same student is very happy to have a wonderful sandwich and healthy snacks each and every day.
A few years ago when we acquired our LEAD program, which is our Syrian refugee families, our need went way up. Without Brown Bagging’s help, these children would not have had a lunch at all or maybe something quite small. As an example, one of the grade 4 students has grown to love your tuna sandwiches! Another grade 4 student who likes to only eat healthy is thrilled to always be able to get some vegetables and fruit!
The yogurt tubes pretty much jump off the counter and run straight to the children by themselves!!
Please know how very much Brown Bagging is appreciated. We are a very lucky school.”
“The Brown Bagging for Calgary’s Kids program is much appreciated at our school! We are very grateful to be part of this service. The children cannot focus when they are hungry; this program is invaluable to our students that are impacted.
A few students at our school really rely on the lunches and snacks. One particular student is very shy and embarrassed to not have a lunch every day. Thanks to your lunches, he has a nutritious lunch and snack each day and can focus on school learning and activities. There are also parents that have expressed how much they appreciate it.
Overall, it is a very wonderful program that we very, very much appreciate. Thank you from all of us that see the impact you are making for our students and other schools around our city.”
Your support changes lives! Check out Kendra’s* letter below to learn how BB4CK lunches have made an impact in her life:
Dear Brown Bagging Team,
I don’t even know where to begin expressing my appreciation towards you for filling my belly when needed and for you taking the time to coordinate for us so that we do have the chance to eat. My name is Kendra, I am 18 years old and live in a small two bedroom basement suite with not only myself but my 15 year old brother and two other males. In the last two weeks I’ve accessed other food resources five days a week trying to feed myself and three other people. I am on social assistance, although that can only go so far.
I’ve been searching for a job for almost five months now so I am able to provide for myself and the others, but it seems to be taking quite some time to get hired. I go to school full time trying to complete my high school diploma so that maybe one day I will go to SAIT. The only source of income I make is from social services. If I was not attending school full time my income would be cut and I would be living at the Drop-In Centre struggling more than ever.
Anyways, my point is that you have allowed me to regenerate off the food that you have given to us. Every Monday I am always so happy to come to school just for the food. It’s so amazing to have people such as yourself helping young people like myself, giving my school food so that my brain can function during the day and giving me the chance to come closer and closer to accomplishing my education goal. More importantly, eating at lunchtime gives us a break to sit and for all of us to be together.
© 2020 Brown Bagging for Calgary Street Kids Society