My name is Marlene; we are a family of 4. My oldest kid is 15 years old, his name is Enzo, and he is all about experiments and science; he wants to be an engineer when he grows up. And my 12-year-old, Amy, she is an artist, she doesn’t know what she wants to be when she grows up, but drawing and painting helps with her anxiety, and she enjoys it.

They both love to cook and bake; once a week, one of them gets to help with dinner. I give them three options, and they pick what they want to help cook. Once they decide, we go to our pantry and see what we are missing. Then, we send my husband to find what we need (we try to stay safe from COVID), using the grocery card that Brown Bagging sent us. And we start cooking together. Both of them enjoy food and everything around it. When we have all the ingredients ready, we cook and bake together, and we have lots of fun in the kitchen.

Last year, when online schooling started, I had to retire early to be with the kids. Both of them have multiple disabilities, from ADHD to physical disabilities to D, so with everything going on, it was best to keep them home learning. Because of COVID, their panic attacks came back, and they went back to hoarding food. And then it hit me; I started questioning myself, are we going to go hungry? Are we going to struggle? And yes, we did have tight days, living on one salary and then, both kids needing new glasses and all other expenses; it was tough, and I was worried. Above all, I needed to make sure that the kids knew that they would never go hungry.

The school suggested the BB4CK grocery card program; we already knew about BB4CK because my kids received the lunches before COVID. When we receive the card, this is what I do. I ask Enzo and Amy what three things they want to add to the shopping cart. “I want to make taquitos,” the youngest would say; So, I would reply, “ok, what do we need?” And we make a list together. Then, we buy the ingredients we need, and we get together and have so much fun in the kitchen. Amy loves to take pictures of our meals, so she is always ready with my phone to take them; I love to see how the amount of effort she puts into cooking she puts it as well as taking pictures. She thinks about the angle, the light, and the presentation. She is, after all, an artist.


Calgary’s Kids Today