For over 30 years, Brown Bagging for Calgary’s Kids (BB4CK) has provided nutritious lunches to hungry kids in schools who would otherwise go without. Our mission is to connect and inspire people to take meaningful action to feed and care for kids. Our vision is to create communities that make sure all kids are fed. We do this by feeding more than 5,100 kids each day in over 200 schools across Calgary, providing barrier-free and dignified access to the food that helps kids stay focused in school.
Many BB4CK lunch recipients belong to vulnerable groups, identifying as refugees, newcomers to Canada, low-income or Indigenous. Our school lunch program aims to directly address food insecurity and support all children in need. At BB4CK, we don’t ask questions of children or require them to justify their hunger; if a child arrives at school without access to a healthy lunch, we make sure they are fed.
Food nourishes us. Brings us together. Connects us. From enjoying a family meal around the table to trading sandwiches in the cafeteria, some of our best memories are built around food. Unfortunately, too many Calgarians don’t have access to reliable sources of food. And we have all had the experience of being hungry – we know that hungry people can’t focus, can’t learn, can’t grow to be their best.
When kids don’t have food, they can’t reach their potential, and they miss out on key childhood experiences. They don’t make friends as easily, they have a harder time learning, they miss more school, and are sick more often.
The BB4CK community is committed to ensuring that every kid in our city has the food they need to flourish. We exist to feed kids who would otherwise go without.
Food is prepared and delivered by a caring volunteer, often waking early and always working hard to put together healthy meals and get them to kids by lunch. They drive in rain and snow, carry bins bursting with food, and scoop tuna salad for hundreds of sandwiches each week. And, it’s delivered at a grocery store, where a parent carefully selects healthy food for their kids, using the grocery gift card they received to help make ends meet.
100% of our funding comes from people and groups who care about feeding hungry kids. They give $20 from their birthday money and $50,000 grants. They drop off cheques for $100, and sign up as Hunger Heroes to give $40 each month.
The BB4CK community is made up of dedicated staff, parents, volunteers, teachers, community leaders and kids. These people are the community that wrap tightly around hungry kids and make sure they are fed. These are the people who look around and see a problem – one that we can’t let go, can’t forget, and can’t fix alone. These are the people who see that kids are hungry and that it isn’t okay, and who take actions – big and small – to make our city and our communities great.
And we’re growing this community, working to create a bigger impact and feed more hungry kids. We’re not slowing down.
So we join together – making a few sandwiches, delivering a few meals, giving what we can. “Alone, I can do so little, but together, we can do so much” has never been so true.
The problems that we face? Well, frankly, they seem overwhelming. People are stressed. People are hurting. Economic and world forces are massive and seem out of our control. People in our neighborhoods, our city – worried about how they’ll pay bills, how they’ll feed their kids. In the face of these problems, overwhelming as they are, it would be easy to turn our backs. Easy to say we can’t fix it, that it’s too big. But that’s not what we do. That’s not who we are.
We start. We start with one hungry kid, one sandwich, one caring connection. Because we have to start somewhere.
Brown Bagging for Calgary’s Kids (BB4CK) is a mission-focused grassroots organization that works to ensure every kid has enough nutritious food to eat. Working in partnership with families, schools and communities, we invite and empower people to work together to feed and care for kids, so they can grow to reach their full potential.
Our vision is simple: we see a future where communities ensure no kids go hungry. Our mission is to connect and inspire people to take meaningful action to feed and care for kids.
What is the problem?
1 in 10 households in Alberta experience food insecurity – inadequate or insecure access to food – and this number is growing. Food insecurity in children exacerbates mental health problems, developing from childhood to adolescence. Families are working hard to feed their children (the majority of households who experience food insecurity note that their main income is wages from employment) but often because of circumstances beyond their control they struggle to provide this basic need. It’s not a lack of effort or a matter of laziness. It’s that at the end of the day, there is just not enough healthy food in their home to go around. These families need support from their communities.
What are we doing about it?
BB4CK feeds more than 5,000 kids in Calgary every day. We provide prepared foods, made by volunteers working in certified kitchens all over the city, and distributed through schools, community centres and other locations in communities. We are the only provider of free lunch at schools in Calgary, and the largest free lunch program in Canada. We also provide grocery gift cards for families who are unable to access these prepared foods, allowing them to purchase the food they need. During times of crisis, such as the COVID-19 pandemic, this community is flexible and responsive to adapting new ways to feed and care for kids. We are 100% community funded.
Thanks to our committed community of volunteers and donors, we have never turned away a child in need, never said no to a school asking for assistance, and never had wait lists.
Together, we’re making sure kids have full bellies and the knowledge that someone loves and cares for them. More than this though, we’re making sure that families and parents have the support they need, connecting people with a reminder that none of us is on our own.
What are we asking from you?
We need you to keep changing the lives and futures of these kids and their families. You can do this by sharing our story, donating, volunteering, or setting up your own community group to feed kids in your community. Please, join us.
At BB4CK, our partnerships and community volunteers allow us to provide a balanced, nutritious lunch to a student for only $2.50. This figure includes food, preparation, packaging and transport costs. Our programming is made possible through the generous contributions of community members who donate their time and funds to help us reach each child in need. Volunteers prepare sandwiches, vegetables and snacks in our kitchens each day and transport these lunches to our schools.
The demand for our programming continues to grow; it is because of our community supports and generous donors that we continue to meet the growing needs of children and families in our community.
At BB4CK, we are committed to finding solutions to end childhood hunger. Our community trusts us to take action in pursuing innovative and lasting solutions to combat food insecurity in Calgary. Moving forward, BB4CK has recognized our responsibility to expand beyond the provision of emergency supports to address the root origin of food insecurity in our city. We are asking important questions and beginning the conversations that we believe will help to inform a shift in the food support landscape and create true, systemic change in the sector.
Together, we are committed to ensuring that every kid in Calgary has the food they need to reach their full potential.
BB4CK knows that every person has the power to change their world. It takes thoughtful, meaningful action – being willing to spend time, energy, and resources to understand a problem and turn it into an opportunity. The BB4CK community focuses its energy on ensuring every student in Calgary has access to a healthy lunch at school, and we invite you to join us.