April 4, 2016

April Kitchen Volunteer Spotlight

National Volunteer Week is April 10 to 16, 2016 and we are celebrating all the amazing volunteers who share their time, talent and energy to help feed kids in our city. We are so grateful and inspired by the tireless dedication and passion of all of our volunteers and we are so proud to count each one of these people as part of the BB4CK community! At our kitchen we currently have 44 core volunteers who join us each week to help ensure there are no hungry kids in Calgary. We also have 10 to 15 core volunteers who cover Fridays and sick/vacation coverage at the kitchen. This month we shine the kitchen volunteer spotlight on Michelle, Dom and William, and Jennah, Vincent and Pat!

Michelle, William and Dom

Michelle, William and Dom

On Monday and Tuesday mornings you can find Dom, Michelle and William Dow at our kitchen, prepacking the day’s lunch bins with yogurt, a fruit, a veggie and a snack. The Dow family discovered BB4CK when a friend posted on her Facebook page about her company’s involvement. “At the time we were looking for somewhere to invest a little volunteer time that would work with our work and family schedule. We looked up what BB4CK was all about and sent an email in seeing if they could accommodate the time in our schedule.” Opportunities aligned perfectly and the Dow’s have been volunteering at the kitchen now for just over a year.

Michelle and William

Michelle and William

“Not only is it a great way to help children who would otherwise go without, but it keeps perspective in our lives. We accidentally missed sending our son to school with lunch one day before we started volunteering at BB4CK. The feeling we carried with us for the rest of the week was unbearable. So to think that many children have to try and function on a daily basis without lunch is heartbreaking. We were fortunate that his teacher was able to buy him a sandwich so he didn’t go without that day. She described it to us as “an act of kindness she tries to model for the children in her class.” We decided to take that kindness and generosity and pay it forward.  Every week we try and model this same act of kindness to our son by informing him about what we do and getting him to participate with us when he can. The fact we can be part of a great organization who help children everyday is our favorite part about volunteering.  We are grateful for an organization which touches close to home, who have welcomed us into their family and who are making a difference in our future and our children’s future.  Thank you BB4CK for all that you do.” – Michelle, Dom and William Dow

Pat and Vincent

Pat and Vincent

On Wednesday and Thursday mornings you can find Jennah, Vincent and Pat at the kitchen helping in a number of ways; cutting veggies, packing and sealing veggies or snacks, or cleaning out the returned lunch bins. Jennah and Vincent have been volunteering together with BB4CK since March 2014 and Pat just recently started in the kitchen three months ago.

Jennah and Vincent

Jennah and Vincent

“I work for Chrysalis. Chrysalis is a Calgary day program for adults with intellectual disabilities. Chrysalis finds volunteer sites for our clients all over the city of Calgary. Our Volunteer Coordinator got in touch with BB4CK about 2-3 years ago, and our clients have volunteered at the kitchen ever since. We are lucky we were placed with BB4CK! We absolutely love volunteering our time at BB4CK, the kitchen is a wonderful place for our clients. They are taught different things during their time in the kitchen that provide them with skills they otherwise might not get. Brown Bagging staff are the most wonderful people and are always so inviting. We are always treated with the utmost respect. My clients are so happy volunteering here, they look forward to coming on their days and so do I!!” – Jennah Desjardins

March 7, 2016

A Community Effort

One of the longest-standing community groups in the Brown Bagging for Calgary’s Kids community is located at Crossroads Community Church. Facilitated by John Estabrooks, the BB4CK program at Crossroads began to take shape in the fall of 2008 and in January 2009 volunteers started preparing and delivering lunches to four schools in their neighborhood. In 2010 they added their fifth school and have supported these schools for the past seven years.


Monday’s volunteers from left: Gillian, Marge, Peggy, Jo, Elsie

Currently, Crossroads creates lunches with the help of three different volunteer groups. “We have a Monday group, a Wednesday group, and I look after lunches on Friday, we just have one school that has Friday lunches,” shares Estabrooks. “From early on our Monday group came to be a group of retired ladies,” says Estabrooks, “we’ve had ladies from the community who attend the Ascension Lutheran church up the road and the ladies here from Crossroads. They have become their own little unit and look after Mondays.”


Wednesday’s volunteers from left: Roy, John, Larry, David, Richard, Linda

Gillian, Marge, Elsie, Jo, Peggy and Anne make up the dedicated Monday volunteer group. “Gillian does the organizing, she does the menu and shopping and all kinds of prep,” explains Estabrooks, “the organizing of who is going to eat what, that’s Gillian.” As a former lunch room supervisor, Gillian manages the kitchen and shopping with ease and preps lunch items for the Monday and Wednesday volunteer groups, “if you do the extra prep work it’s easier on the other volunteers, and I like to be organized” she says. Gillian truly enjoys her work and the company of her fellow volunteers – “it gives me purpose” she explains, “it’s very rewarding.” The other volunteers echo Gillian’s statements, grateful for the opportunity to make a difference in the lives of children and for the fun and friendship they experience with their group. Marge shares that “lunches are important; they give children the opportunity to learn better.” Her advice to potential community volunteers? “Give it a try, you’ll probably like it.”

The Wednesday group is made up of six volunteers: John, Larry, David, Richard, Linda and Roy. Their group is featured in the video below. Both groups are lively and joyful and passionate about making a difference in the lives of those in their community. “You meet needs, you help people as you can, you play together,” says Estabrooks, “it’s a neat thing and Brown Bagging is a pivotal part of that for us.”

Learn more about volunteering with a community group.

March 7, 2016

Lunch is Love… Story from a SE Elementary School

Smiling BoyThe power of a sandwich exceeds its most basic function. Not only can a sandwich fill a tummy and satisfy hunger; a sandwich can demonstrate love and comfort, emphasize trust and safety, nurture understanding and caring and encourage community and empowerment.

At BB4CK we see the evidence of this in everything we do. The power of a sandwich is most apparent when we see and hear about the impact that it has on the life of a child and those who care for and support this child.

The following story comes from a BB4CK lunch program administrator at a SE Calgary elementary school:

“Our school has a male student in Gr. 5 who has two younger sisters that also attend our school. When they started here, the boy would hang around the office in the hall area every lunch hour. He was very quiet and I was never able to strike up a conversation with him. Soon I put it together; he was watching me hand out full or part lunches. I noticed he never ate anything. After a couple of weeks, the boy came into the office and hung around my desk, but always said he wasn’t hungry. Finally, he would accept the smallest snack, but that was it. Then he began to trust me and see we didn’t judge these hungry children. Through conversation I learned that whatever food his mom (a single parent) has goes to his two younger sisters. I checked for a week and the girls had somewhat of a lunch (which Brown Bagging now supplements). This boy now feels comfortable and safe to come for food. Now instead of hanging in the hall not eating and not talking, he is social, trusting and fed. Even though our students are young, they still come with fears of telling people there is no food at home. We work at making it safe and normal for us to give out food.”

March 3, 2016

One Lunch Makes a Difference – Summit Kids Community Group

Summit Kids

“Start small. Even one lunch makes a difference.”

Last year, the management team of Summit Kids, an innovative out-of-school care program, was exploring new ways to make a difference in their community. When they learned about Brown Bagging for Calgary’s Kids they embraced the opportunity to start making lunches for kids in our city who would otherwise go without. Summit Kids Lunches

Led by Summit Kids’ Inspiration Architect, Chad Fawcett, the volunteer group meets at the West Hillhurst Community Association (WHCA) to serve 3 schools and create 100 lunches each week. Chad, the program’s champion, runs and promotes the program and recruits new volunteers from both inside and outside the organization. “We’ve really made it a community initiative, something that we didn’t realize would happen when we first started. It was just us, it was just going to be an in-house thing and now it’s really great when I look at our volunteer schedule” shares Nancy Klensch, Creator of Summit Kids.

Upon sharing their story with their ATB branch, branch staff inquired how they could be involved and have been volunteering ever since. WHCA staff and members of the community have become involved through their community association and have taken part in rolling up their sleeves to make lunches. “Every couple of weeks a group comes in and bakes. At Christmas time we made sugar cookies and the kids in our Summit Kids program here decorated the cookies” Klensch shares, “It was a true community contribution. All the cookies that went out in the lunches were decorated with lots of love from our kindergarten kids.”

The schools have shared positive feedback with their group. “They really do see a difference” Klensch says “It all fits in academically and socially, one lunch makes a huge difference. It even goes beyond primary hunger. It’s a huge reason to do what we do.”

Klensch does the grocery shopping on Sundays and loves the opportunity to educate other people about their program. “Standing in the grocery check out line is the perfect opportunity to educate people” explains Klensch. “When people see 14 loaves of bread, 40 apples, 40 oranges and all of the groceries they always kind of look at you and go, “what are you doing?””

Klensch’s piece of advice for those interested in starting a community group? “Start small, that’s ok. You can start by joining a group like ours, coming in once a month and just learning and seeing if this is something for you. It is never too small.” “Hopefully we’ll just keep getting bigger and better and helping more and one day we won’t have hungry kids.”

Find out how you can create a community group to make lunches for students in your neighbourhood.

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