For most kids, the end of the school year is an exciting time when they look forward to connecting with friends and family over the summer, to laugh, play, and make special memories, some that can last a lifetime. But for many kids in our city, summer is a time of anxiety, isolation and hunger – those memories will last a lifetime, and the impact can be devastating.
School nutrition programs play a critical role in helping children build healthy minds and bodies.
Several organizations in Calgary generously provide free or reduced-cost nutrition programs to more than 4,000 children from low-income families in over 200 schools. A meal received at school may be a hungry child’s only meal of the day.
Sadly, the majority of low-income kids who depend on subsidized nutrition programs during the school year do not have the same access to a free meal during the summer.
As a result, they can starve their bodies and their minds of necessary nutrition, compromising their physical and emotional development and delaying their academic performance by up to two months at the start of the school year.
Just as learning does not end when school lets out, neither does a child’s need for good nutrition to sustain their physical, emotional and social development.
I Can for Kids and our community partners are working hard to ensure our youngest, most vulnerable population receives the supports and resources they need. Together, we provide food packs to hungry kids in high-risk, low-income areas in Calgary. Each food pack contains a minimum of three meals and two snacks that require little to no preparation to help kids get the nutrition they need to learn, play and grow throughout the summer months, preparing them to return to school ready to learn.
But it’s more than a meal.
Working to address the challenges that result in poverty and food insecurity is important to us. We take pride in our collaborations with agencies who advocate for long-term strategies that address the root causes of poverty, such as Vibrant Communities Calgary – stewards of Enough for All, Calgary’s poverty reduction strategy.