October 21, 2014

5 Facts About Nutrition and Learning

1. Taking in plenty of calories doesn’t prevent malnutrition. Malnourished kids are lacking nutrients, not food. Vitamins, minerals and other essential components of a good diet are as important to health and mental acuity as protein, carbohydrates and fats.

2. Foods high in saturated fats and sugar cause energy levels to drop, impairing kids’ ability to think clearly and learn.

3. Eating lunch at school gives your kids the energy they need to concentrate and to participate in after-school activities. It also helps make sure they don’t gorge on unhealthy snacks when they get home.

4. We know that hungry children can’t learn. They struggle to concentrate in class and may act out because they are hungry. … They feel sick, get distracted and start to fall behind.

5. A meal at school acts as a magnet to get children into the classroom. And, according to the United Nations World Food Programme, continuing to provide a daily meal to children as they grow helps keep them in school. There is wide range of benefits, many of which extend beyond the classroom.

— Sources:;;;

August 19, 2014

Chuckwagons for Charity


The Brakemen Foundation

When Derek Krivak and Earl Hale decided to pool their resources to help Calgary charity groups, they were off to the races. The Calgary Stampede’s Rangeland Derby chuckwagon races, that is. And in the end, hungry kids in Calgary schools were among the winners.

Krivak and Hale are both involved in Calgary’s oil and gas industry. Krivak is the Vice-President of Strategic Development for Data Scavenger, a company that provides cloud-based information sharing to the oil and gas sector. His partner, Hale, is founder of seismic data specialist Reservoir Imaging Inc. The two met a few years ago during the Calgary Stampede’s annual chuckwagon canvas auction.

“We’d been involved with buying chuck tarps jointly for several years,” Krivak says. “We had seen a trend toward the winning bidders then parceling race nights off to corporations. We decided to leverage that, set a flat fee and donate the profits to charity.”

The initiative was clearly an idea with a lot of support. In 2013, Hale and Krivak set up the Brakemen Foundation as the umbrella for their charitable endeavour.

Krivak says there are two guiding principles behind the Brakemen Foundation’s philanthropic decisions. First, the foundation focuses on children in need. “We feel sometimes kids don’t have choices. Sometimes they are forced into situations by the cruelties of the world. We want to help those who are missing the ‘have-to-haves’ rather than the ‘nice-to-haves.’” Second, local needs take priority: “We focus on our backyard.”

Brown Bagging for Calgary’s Kids dovetails perfectly with those priorities, and so the Brakemen Foundation made a $40,000 contribution to the charity late last year.

“It’s staggering to me how many kids are going without lunch at school, in a city with so much wealth,” Krivak says. “We really like the idea of feeding those kids, so it’s a relationship we definitely see continuing. The support has been great from corporate Calgary.”

So has the appreciation from Brown Bagging for Calgary’s Kids and the young Calgarians who benefit from the healthy lunches it provides each day.

August 19, 2014

Fun Facts About Our Board Members

The members of the Brown Bagging for Calgary’s Kids board are dedicated and caring people. But that’s not all. Read on to find out a little more about the brains behind the operation.

• Samantha Woods is a dog lover, traveller, runner, reader and “academic coacher” who is taking the plunge into the world of entrepreneurship after being a teacher for 19 years.

• Kathy Prosser met her husband, Eric, at a singles dinner at JR Houston’s (now the Keg) 22 years ago. Now the two work with their friend, Tracy, at the Prosser Charitable Foundation. “It’s the biggest kick of my life.”

• Dan Halverson has climbed Mount Kilimanjaro and completed the 800-kilometre Camino de Santiago pilgrimage across Spain.

• Kari Scarlett is the former executive director of Kids Up Front, an organization that gives kids in need access to arts, sports and entertainment events. She’s also a 2011 Avenue Calgary Top 40 Under 40 alumna. “That was pretty neat. I’m very thankful!” As if that’s not enough, she also just learned to hula hoop!

• Shane Byciuk is a self-proclaimed “huge Elvis fan.” An insurance broker by trade, Shane is a tireless commentator, blogger and tweeter about community issues and parenting. Catch up to him at

August 19, 2014

Avoiding Allergens

The peabutter story

Volunteers spending their first shift in the Brown Bagging for Calgary’s Kids kitchen can be forgiven for being a bit confused when they hear the term “peabutter” being tossed around.

“Are you saying ‘peanut butter’?” some will ask. But no — because of the severity of some kids’ peanut allergies, BB4CK does not use peanut butter. The tasty spread used on almost 25% of the sandwiches made in the kitchen is NoNuts Golden Peabutter. It’s an Alberta product that, like many innovations, was discovered almost by accident.

“The inventor of peabutter, Joe St. Denis, was looking for a variety of field pea that could be used to manufacture hummus,” says Caryll Carruthers, president of Mountain Meadows Food Processing. “In the process, he developed a product that tasted more like peanut butter.”

The end result is that Mountain Meadows, located north of Edmonton, supplies the peabutter used by BB4CK — about 650 kilograms, or well over half a tonne, each year.

“It is very satisfying manufacturing a nutritious product, with none of the top allergens, that lets children enjoy a substitute for their favourite peanut butter sandwich,” Carruthers says.

Keeping those allergens at bay is a top priority for Mountain Meadows. “Peabutter is the only product we produce in our facility, which is free from peanuts, tree nuts, soy, gluten and the rest of the top allergens — so there isn’t any danger of cross-contamination.”

Carruthers says her company is proud of its five-year record of working with Brown Bagging for Calgary’s Kids.

“We started dealing with BB4CK in 2009. We were very impressed with the program that had been set up in Calgary with mainly volunteer participation, and we’re pleased to be part of it.”

Help a child today

No matter how big or small your contribution, each dollar you donate will provide lunch for a hungry child. Helping has never been simpler.

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