Remember how great it was to be a kid in the summer?
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 Calgary, 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 5,000 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.
The resulting hunger can have an overwhelming effect on their physical, emotional and social development and delay their academic performance by up to two months at the start of the school year.
Whether affected by a job loss, a health crisis, or escaping a life of abuse, thousands of Calgarians struggle to put food on the table every day.
Rising food prices, increased child care costs over summer and back-to-school expenses make it increasingly difficult for parents to provide basic needs for their children. And sadly, the fear of stigma and social and physical barriers make it difficult to feel supported.
Just as learning does not end when school lets out, neither does a child’s need for good nutrition.
Hunger can make children feel isolated and stigmatized, unappreciated and misunderstood. And when you’re worried about where your next meal will come from, it’s easy to see your future slipping away. No child deserves that.
It is imperative that hungry kids can access food in a manner that is timely, efficient, and suitable in terms of quantity and quality. That’s what inspired I Can for Kids to create a unique program that reaches the hungriest kids where they live and play, all summer long.
Through a network of trusted frontline community and agency partners, I Can for Kids provides child-friendly non-perishable food packs, fresh produce, peanut butter and an assortment of other nutritious items to children and youth who would otherwise go hungry. By applying the knowledge of each child’s living situation as known by our partner agencies, together we can support kids on their turf and on their terms – no judgement, no barriers.
For many kids in Calgary going hungry is a way of life, but it shouldn’t define their future.
The good news is that we have everything we need, right here, right now, for kids to be and feel supported. Feeding a hungry child not only helps them do better, but it helps them thrive. And when a child thrives, the family thrives, and we all grow stronger.
I Can for Kids helps children and youth get the nourishment they need to learn, play and grow throughout the summer months, giving them the worry-free summer they deserve and a healthier start to their school year.
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.