BB4CK works in partnership with Calgary schools to make and deliver free healthy lunches for students who would otherwise go hungry.
Through the work of community groups and volunteers, we provide lunches for approximately 4,400 kids each school day. Lunches are prepared in our main kitchen, and in various other locations by community groups including retirees, parent groups and local businesses.
Nourishment is available to any young person who arrives at school without enough to eat. BB4CK works with school staff members to identify needs and to plan how best to make sure hungry students get the nutrition required to think clearly and learn. By enabling better education outcomes, BB4CK gives students a hand up, not just a handout.
$2 to feed a child
Each lunch costs an average of $2 to make and deliver, thanks to the help of our in-kind partners. These partners include the Calgary Italian Bakery, Chongos Produce Market, Sysco Canada, Calgary Food Bank and Mountain Meadows Food Processing.
Thousands of volunteers
The work of thousands of caring volunteers alongside our small and dedicated staff means contributions go directly toward feeding hungry kids. So when an individual or corporation makes a donation of any size, the impact is easy to calculate and the effect is immediate.
For each dollar we receive, BB4CK can make and deliver a healthy lunch to one child. Despite our name, there are actually no brown bags. We stopped using brown paper lunch bags several years ago, to reduce waste and make it less obvious which kids were receiving our lunches.
Today, all our lunches are packed into large bins. Each bin contains all the components a school needs for the number of lunches it has requested.
A side benefit of this change is flexibility to meet various needs. For example, some kids need a full meal, while others require a supplement to an inadequate lunch.
We aim to provide variety along with nutrition. Each lunch we deliver contains a healthy sandwich made with fresh bread. Ingredients include cheese, ham, turkey, tuna, egg salad or peanut-free “pea butter” and jam.
We also include vegetables and fruit, and a snack such as yogurt or homemade cookies. Each item carries a high nutritional value and either meets or exceeds the Canadian health recommendations.
Frequently Asked Questions
When did BB4CK start?
A group of volunteers originally started providing lunches to kids who were going without in 1990, under the umbrella of a different organization. In 2002, BB4CK was developed as an independent charitable organization. We currently provide food for 4,400 kids in 220 schools across Calgary. Each lunch is made and delivered by a volunteer, with more than 600 volunteers giving their time each week.
Read more about our history here.
How do kids enroll in the Brown Bagging for Calgary’s Kids lunch program?
Families in need are encouraged to approach their child’s school if they need help feeding their children lunch. If there is no existing lunch program in place, families and school staff can request to work together to start a BB4CK program. Additionally, school staff may identify that a child is going without a lunch or a healthy lunch and the child is added to the program and begins receiving lunches.
Learn more about signing up a school here.
How many schools does BB4CK supply lunches to?
We currently work with 220 schools. About 40% of these schools are cared for by our downtown kitchen and community groups care for the other 60% of these schools. Our goal is to reach out to all Calgary schools to ensure they know about BB4CK, understand what need may look like and receive assistance if needed. Ultimately, we want to ensure there are no hungry kids in Calgary!
How many kids does BB4CK impact?
BB4CK impacts approximately 4,400 kids each school day.
Is BB4CK a registered charity?
Yes. Charitable number is 890458417RR0001.
Where does BB4CK get its funding from?
100% of our funding comes from community – from companies who write large cheques, groups that hold an event or do a fundraiser, and kids who bring in money from their birthday party. Learn more about how to do this here.
We have no government contracts or funding from any large funding body. This keeps reporting requirements to a minimum, allows us to engage the community at a high level, and ensures our funding is sustainable through government transitions.
What is the benefit of kids receiving BB4CK lunches?
Kids that receive lunches show increased school participation, attendance rates and grades, they feel better about themselves and have the energy to be kids! There is also caring and capacity created around these kids through the interaction of those providing the lunches to them in their schools.
Read stories about the impact that our community has for kids on our blog.
How does BB4CK account for allergies that kids may have?
Our kitchen is absolutely nut-free! We use “pea butter”, a peanut butter alternative. Any other food allergies or concerns are accommodated to the best of our ability, by the variety of lunches offered. Kids are able to choose what they are able to have while still receiving a full lunch.
Does the lunch program only run during school months?
For the most part yes, our kitchen runs from September to June. However, our team continues to serve kids during the summer months through various community summer projects.
Where do you get your food?
The majority of our food is purchased using donations provided by the community. This helps ensure we can provide fresh, healthy and consistent lunches for kids. At our downtown kitchen, we have food partners who support this with discounts. These partners include: Calgary Italian Bakery, Sysco, and No Nuts. We also have a great relationship with The Calgary Food Bank, who provide donated food they have available.
What grades does BB4CK provide lunches to?
We provide lunches to elementary, junior high and high school students.
How many volunteers does BB4CK have?
We are supported by over 600 volunteers weekly.
What is in a lunch and how much do lunches cost to make?
Each lunch costs an average of $2.00 to make and deliver to a hungry kid in our city.
What is the benefit of a BB4CK Community Group?
The kids that receive the lunches from people in the community have said that, “They can feel that their sandwiches are made with love.” The community volunteers have said, “By doing this they have felt more part of their community than they have in years.”
What are Community Groups and how do they work?
BB4CK works with over 25 community groups of volunteers that operate outside of our downtown kitchen, making lunches in their own communities and delivering them to neighborhood schools.
Learn more about community groups here.
Does BB4CK have staff?
Yes, we have 12 FT/PT staff members.