It takes a village to run the Brown Bagging For Calgary Kids program

Previously just a one-day event, the program has expanded to almost two weeks this year due to a higher demand

By Krista Sylvester | May 24, 2022 |5:00 am

Each year on May 25, Calgarians join in on Brown Bagging for Calgary Kids (BB4CK) to help get lunches to children in need.

Photo: Submitted

It’s no secret the cost of everything is going up these days, and food is no exception.

Visits to the Calgary Food Bank have gone up by 44 per cent since 2019 and food prices are expected to continue climbing by five to seven per cent in 2022, adding nearly $1,000 to the annual grocery bill for the average family of four.

The past year has shown Calgary just how difficult living costs can be, with one in 10 households in Alberta experiencing food insecurity every day. 

Higher demand for services 

These statistics mean Brown Bagging For Calgary Kids (BB4CK) has never been more important, says Bethany Ross, the executive director of the organization.

“The problem is growing, and research shows that food insecurity in children, in particular, is strongly linked to mental health problems and behavioural issues,” Ross explains.

“Students who come to school hungry lose an average of 132 minutes of learning daily due to a lack of energy.” 

Ross says the program wouldn’t be what it is without Calgarians getting involved and showing their support by helping provide 5,000 lunches across 200 schools throughout the city each day. 

“We are so grateful for the generosity of our community, working together to make sure every kid has access to the food they need,” she says, adding the program helps ensure that kids receive the nutrition they need to learn and grow. 

“For more than 30 years, Brown Bagging for Calgary Kids has worked tirelessly to bring people together — giving time, energy, resources and lots of heart — to ensure that kids who need food have access to it.” 

Couldn’t do it without the generosity of Calgarians 

With over 30 Brown Bagging for Calgary Kids kitchens run by hundreds of volunteers, the organization is exclusively community-funded. 

“Thanks to the community’s generosity, Brown Bagging for Calgary Kids can provide balanced, nutritious lunches to students for as little as $2.50 per lunch, a figure that includes food, preparation, packaging, and transport costs,” Ross adds. 

Brown-Bagging-It Day was created by former Mayor Naheed Nenshi in 2017 to create awareness for kids in the community arriving at school each day without the food they need. 

With the growing cost of food and pressure on families who are experiencing food insecurity, the organization is raising more awareness around Brown-Bagging-It Day this year. In past years, the campaign would run every May 25. 

It takes a village 

This year, it’s been extended to span almost two weeks, and they are partnering up with local volunteers as well as Southcentre Mall, which is hosting a special Brown Bagging for Calgary Kids information wall that will be stationed in Southcentre’s Centre Court from May 24 until the end of the month. 

Southcentre staff will also be marking Brown-Bagging-It Day by assembling upwards of 200 lunches on May 24 to be distributed to several nearby schools.

ARC Resources Ltd. has also offered to match all donations up to $30,000. 

But the small things help, too, Ross adds. 

“Becoming part of the solution can be as simple as sharing about Brown-Bagging-It Day on social media, donating to Brown Bagging for Calgary Kids or volunteering to make or deliver lunches.” 

Calgarians can donate here.

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Krista Sylvester

Managing Editor at Calgary Citizen

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