In “normal times,” FAC provides a breakfast program each day in an Ogden public school. FAC also has school partnerships in low-income areas such as Dover and Forest Lawn to meet critical needs as they arise (such as Christmas care packages, pull-ups, school supplies). YCC opens their doors daily from 3:00-6:00 pm to all youth who need a safe and welcoming place to “be kids.” Ogden is an isolated, low-income community, with few resources and otherwise no after-school programs.
When COVID-19 spread to Calgary, YCC closed its doors … and soon after, the schools did the same. Our regular operations were suspended indefinitely, but we knew we needed to stay connected with our kids and families and that they may need our help more than ever. YCC spoke with many of the school principals in the SE/NE communities and there was a palpable worry about food insecurity. Many kids ate their main meals at school or at the Youth Centre. The repeated concern was “Who is going to feed the kids?” So, we pivoted.
A partnership formed between FAC and YCC. Together, with the help of volunteers, school principals, and community social workers (spreading the word) we provide lunches in a contactless, “grab-and-go” system. FAC’s Harvest Culinary Kitchen (commercial & licensed) prepares the lunches. The kids and families can take a break from their day between 11:00 am and 1:00 pm 7 days a week and pick up a lunch. We follow all AHS guidelines and practice physical distancing at every stage of production and delivery.
This change of course was immediately successful and we expanded to 3 additional sites. We went from 20 lunches a day to 300 lunches a day in a matter of a few days. The daily “grab-and-go” lunches are provided at the Ogden Youth Centre and in front of schools in Forest Lawn, Dover, and Rosscarrock. We see a deep, unmet need at this time and would like to continue to grow into other vulnerable communities such as Radisson, Penbrooke, and downtown as the summer unfolds.
No one was prepared for this pandemic crisis, but we have been able to nimbly repurpose the youth centre, FAC’s kitchen, and our volunteer force to potentially distribute approximately 450 lunch bags a day. And we do this with a lot of love and smiles as we wave goodbye every day with a “See you tomorrow!” It’s more than a lunch … It’s a community connection point of friendship and kindness for the people whom we serve. To date, we have handed out 10,950 lunches.
The cost of each lunch is $2.75 (not including the cost of labour) and it includes a sandwich, carrots, fruit, and a cookie. We’re planning to meet this need in Calgary until September 7, 2020, which is another 13 weeks of food distribution. At our current rate we are handing out 2000 meals per week. We need approximately $71,500 to meet our current needs until end of summer.
If we step in to help in additional communities this summer it is approximately $16,000 per additional site.
Any assistance you’re able to provide would be appreciated. Through volunteers, community partners, and generous donors we will continue to strive to meet the needs of kids and families during this tough time as long as it is feasible.
We know these are tough times, but maybe you’ll consider …
· For the price of a Starbucks latte you can feed two kids
· For the price of a men’s haircut you can feed 12 kids
· A $500 donation can cover the cost of 181 bagged lunches
I respectfully request your assistance in helping our community.
Any size donation makes a difference, and donations are tax receiptable! Here’s how you can donate to make a difference through FAC:
Our dream is to see the 3500 people who call FAC home, inspired and passionate about giving back to our city. We encourage everyone in the community to support people around them as they are able organically by building relationships an making everyone feel known and loved. We believe that this will create a better city for everyone!
As an organization we work to make the vulnerable known and loved by supporting those facing homelessness through connections with the Mustard Seed and offering our building as a temporary shelter. We desire to see new immigrants and refugees connected and thriving in their new homes through our refugee sponsorship and resettlement program with the Canadian Government. Each year we help individuals and groups sponsor over 70 refugees to begin a new life in Alberta.
We offer resources like the Tool Team (home repairs with zero labour charges or help with moves), Oil Change Day (free oil changes), Backpack for kids (yearly backpack program), bagged lunch programs in partnership with Youth Centres of Calgary and Meals on Wheels which serve multiple communities, Calgary Food Bank Hampers at our depot location in the SE, and more. We desire to see our city face each day knowing they are not alone in their circumstances and there are places they can turn to for support. We also offer classes and courses like Fly Fishing, English Class, Grief Support, Widows Connection, Sewing English Classes, Youth programs and a school of music to give people ways to connect with others.
We are always looking for new volunteers to help in community engagement initiatives. There is never a shortage of opportunities.
We also depend on the generous support of numerous donors. FAC uses our “Care Fund” or “Covid-19 Fund” to cover the cost of supplies for initiatives that support our community and emergency request. These funds cover the cost of basic needs (food, clothing, shelter).