Living Standards | Food
Community Connections | Children And Youth

I Can for Kids Foundation

Hunger doesn't take summer vacation. For over 5,000 Calgary kids who depend on school nutrition programs, summer can be their hardest and hungriest time of the year. I Can for Kids delivers child-friendly food packs, fresh produce, peanut butter and an assortment of other nutritious items to food insecure children and youth where they live and play all summer long.

Our Story

Why We Exist

“I never expected to find myself in a situation where having food would be a concern. My family and I have been through a whole lot in the last four months and sometimes in this journey I have found that we need extra help with food, clothing or basic items. We have been lucky enough to benefit from the I Can for Kids program, this program has saved us more than once. I do not know how we would have made it, especially through the summer, without I Can for Kids. They drop off with a friendly smile and a bag of food to help us get through the week.  What more could I ask! Thank you I Can for Kids, I will never forget how you have helped my family!”  – Brenda Strafford Centre client

School nutrition programs play a critical role in helping children build healthy minds and bodies. A meal received at school may be a hungry child’s only meal of the day.

Sadly, the majority of kids who count on these 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 health, 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 the 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.

That’s what inspired Sutton Garner, only 11-years old at the time, to create the I Can for Kids Foundation to fulfill her mission to end summer childhood hunger in Calgary and build a community where no child goes hungry.

With the generous support of our agency partners, funders and volunteers, I Can for Kids provides child-friendly, non-perishable food packs, fresh produce, peanut butter and an assortment of other nutritious items to hungry kids in high-risk, low-income areas in Calgary, helping them get the nutrition they need to learn, play and grow over the summer months, preparing them for a healthier start to the school year.

We are proud to have an impact on the lives of thousands of children and families in our community. In recognition of our work, our co-founder Sutton Garner was honored as Calgary’s Youth Philanthropist of the Year for 2017, and named one of our city’s Most Compelling Calgarians of 2018 by the Calgary Herald.

Our Impact

What We Do

When food security is the biggest determinant of health, it is imperative that hungry kids can access food in a manner that’s timely, efficient, and suitable in terms in 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 30 frontline agency and community 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. We reach some of the most vulnerable kids in Calgary – children in single parent low-income households, kids who have recently escaped domestic violence, and homeless youth as young as 12-years old.

With the help of our generous supporters, I Can for Kids provided over 24,000 child-friendly food packs to hungry kids in Calgary last summer – accounting for more than 212,000 meals since our start in 2015.

Our agency partners include:

  • Aspen Family and Community Network Society
  • BowWest Community Resource Centre
  • Boys & Girls Clubs of Calgary
  • Calgary Housing Company
  • Calgary John Howard Society
  • Calgary Police Service
  • Calgary Women’s Emergency Shelter
  • Carya
  • Catholic Family Service
  • Centre for Newcomers
  • City of Calgary – Neighborhoods
  • Closer to Home
  • Community Kitchen Program of Calgary
  • Cornerstone Youth Centre
  • CUPS
  • Deer Park United Church
  • Discovery House
  • Elizabeth Fry Society of Calgary
  • Hull Services – Patch Program
  • Metis Calgary Family Services
  • Oak Park Church
  • SE Calgary Community Resource Centre
  • Soccer Without Boundaries
  • SouthWest Communities Resource Centre
  • The Alex Youth Health Centre
  • The Brenda Strafford Centre
  • Thornhill Child Care
  • Women In Need Society
  • Wood’s Homes – EXIT Outreach
  • Youth Centres of Calgary

OUR RESULTS:

  • In 2019, we provided over 24,000 food packs to hungry kids through 90 distribution points in more than 50 communities in Calgary.
  • We are the only agency in Calgary providing this type program.
  • Donated products and services account for nearly 40% of our annual operating budget.
  • In 2018, our annual cost to raise a dollar was $.08, our administrative expenses were exceptionally low at 9%, and 80% of gross contributions directly supported our summer food program.

Our Programs

How We Do It

We pride ourselves on a simple and efficient business model that delivers a critical service to thousands of vulnerable kids in the community.

Step 1: YOUR GIFT

It all starts with the generosity of our corporate sponsors, donors and grant funders to support our work, as well as a dedicated team of volunteers who manage many aspects of the organization and program delivery.

Step 2: PARTNERSHIPS

Next, we build partnerships with food manufacturers, wholesalers and retailers and encourage them to donate groceries for our food packs, or leverage their buying power to purchase inventory at a significantly reduced cost.

Step 3: ASSEMBLE & STORE FOOD PACKS

Then during the spring months, we collect and safely store our inventory at our warehouse. It’s there where we engage over 500 volunteers to join us in assembling our food packs.

Step 4: BUILD DISTRIBUTION CHANNELS

While we keep busy preparing our food packs, we also work hard to build distribution channels with community and agency partners. Our partners are key in helping us reach the hungriest kids in Calgary.

Step 5: PURCHASE A CHILD-FRIENDLY FOOD PACK

During the month of May, we run a special campaign through Calgary Save On Foods stores by selling our food packs to their customers to donate to hungry kids in our city. For those who can’t make it to a Save On Foods store, donations are accepted online all year long.

Step 6: FOOD PACKS ARE DISTRIBUTED TO HUNGRY KIDS

Finally, when school ends, we get busy delivering our food packs to hungry kids where they live and play until the start of the school year.

Since we believe nothing should stand in the way of a hungry child getting the support they need, we do not require recipient children or their parents to endure a lengthy, income-based application process in order to receive our support. This process often presents barriers, and associated stigmas prevent many families from accessing the resources their children desperately need. Instead, simply based on the child’s life situation and their qualification to receive support from our partner agencies, I Can for Kids provides them with the food supports they need in a non-judgemental, barrier-free environment.

But it’s more than a meal.

Working to address the challenges that result in poverty and food insecurity is important to us. We actively participate in a number of 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.

Together, we endeavor to enrich, empower and inspire every young life we touch, and build a community where no child goes hungry.

Our Requests

What You Can Do

Food is fuel.  Without it, kids can’t live up to their full potential. You can help end summer childhood hunger in our community.

$5 feeds a hungry kid for a day or more.

Invest – A financial donation is the first critical step in transforming the future of vulnerable, food insecure kids.  You can:

  • Purchase an I Can for Kids food packs at any Calgary Save On Foods location during the month of May.
  • Make an online donation to I Can for Kids anytime.
  • Want to make a bigger impact? Consider a recurring monthly gift. You can increase, decrease or cancel your monthly donation at any time.
  • Become an I Can for Kids corporate sponsor.

Inform – Help us spread the word about the impact of child summer hunger:

Inspire – Roll up your sleeves and feel closer to the cause. Volunteer your time and talent and encourage your family and friends to join you to:

Videos

Stay Connected

Contact

Bobbi Turko, Executive Director

I Can for Kids Foundation

403.815.9604

Charitable Number: 788073294RR0001

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