Since April 8, 2020, 45 agency partners have helped us support 10,000+ hungry kids in Calgary. To date, we’ve distributed 7,400 $50 grocery gift cards with a total value of $370,000 to over 65 communities in Calgary.

Every year thousands of children and youth count on I Can for Kids to support their nutritional needs when they can no longer access school breakfast and lunch programs over the summer break. Financially, it is an especially difficult time of the year – childcare costs go up and with kids home all day, the cupboards and fridge quickly go bare. Without proper access to nutritious food, the summer can be long and difficult for families, and the effects of short-term hunger can have long-term impact on developing minds and bodies, and even delay academic performance by up to two months at the start of the school year.

This year, COVID-19 brought us many unexpected challenges, and forced us all to adapt to a new way of daily living. Instead of planning summer vacations, many families are looking for new employment and wondering how they will afford groceries this month. Since the pandemic forced schools to close in March, I Can for Kids hasn’t skipped a beat and we found new and effective ways to reach those who need us most. And while some food support programs have closed for the summer, we are still hard at work feeding children and families across the city. In fact, thanks to the generosity of our donors, I Can for Kids has increased our support – we have been able to distribute more grocery gift cards, include more fresh produce in grocery hampers, and provide a variety of pantry basics such as peanut butter and cereal, benefiting more than 10,000 kids and counting.

We are listening to our frontline agency partners and responding to the situation as it evolves to continue providing meaningful support to kids wherever they are. While gift cards are great for allowing families to shop for their own groceries close to home, they are not always the best or most needed option for some. We recently assembled 5,400 grab & go food packs to meet the unique needs of homeless youth, domestic violence shelters and Calgary Police Service, allowing them to offer real and immediate support in critical situations. Our summer program might look a little different this year due to COVID, however the feedback about how well our blended program of gift cards and food packs has been working continues to roll in.

I Can for Kids’ network of agency partners includes compassionate individuals and dedicated organizations working together to ensure the most vulnerable in our community receive the support they need. Over the past four years, our partnership with The Alex Youth Health Centre has been a vital link by helping us reach thousands of Calgary kids – of all ages – who struggle with food insecurity.

“We have a young 23-year-old mom who has four small children in her home, and all of them have suspected COVID-19, based on a remote assessment completed by one of our physicians. I was able to connect with this young lady and asked what essentials she needed for her family, since her family of six cannot leave the house and must remain in self-isolation for 14 days. We were able to use $100 worth of Walmart gift cards provided by I Can for Kids to go shopping for the family, gathering essentials like flats of soup, eggs, apples, bananas and Children’s Tylenol.”

“Upon arriving at the house, we took all of the groceries out and left them on their front porch and called them to let them know the items had been left. We waited in the vehicle ensuring they got everything inside before leaving. I can’t think of a more tremendous gift than being able to provide a family in need with essentials, especially when their entire household is so ill and unable to leave the house. Having sick tiny humans is treacherous in any event, let alone a pandemic. The work that we all do is invaluable to the community, especially during these trying and uncertain times.” – Judy M., The Alex Youth Health Centre

From the start, we made a commitment to our donors and partners to be responsible and thoughtful in how we support vulnerable kids in Calgary. We have been successful because our approach is collaborative and targeted to ensure those most impacted and most in need benefit from our program. It is how we have always done it, and it is how we will continue to do it.

A child going hungry is something a parent should never have to fear. This summer, their fear is greater than ever. Please make a donation today and give hungry kids the healthy and happy summer they deserve.