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Jul 26, 2019

BROWN BAGGING FOR KIDS HELPS COMBAT CHILDHOOD HUNGER WITH QUALICO SUPPORT AND VOLUNTEERS

Calgary, AB  Hungry kids often struggle to succeed in school. Hunger can limit a student’s ability to focus, retain information and participate properly in school activities. With food insecurity affecting about one-in-12 families in Alberta, the issue is far-reaching.

Brown Bagging for Kids (BB4K) is an organization that partners with Calgary schools to provide free nutritious lunches to kids in need. Community groups and volunteers work together to feed approximately 4,400 kids every school day.

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On May 21, Amy Hurst, Regional Communications Business Partner, Southern Alberta Region, and Alexandria Neuman, Product Coordinator, StreetSide Developments Calgary, spent a day volunteering with BB4K along with several other Qualico employees.

“BB4K approached Qualico Communities for a donation or sponsorship,” said Amy. “The Southern Alberta Region and Qualico Communities Calgary decided to partner on the gift in order to get all Calgary business units involved. I took a team of volunteers representing the different business units with me to volunteer at the kitchen and get a sense of their organization and how our gift would be used.”

The day was spent preparing and packing a variety of sandwiches, oatmeal balls, cereal snack bags, and cutting vegetables and fruit. The volunteers then helped with taking out the garbage and cleaning the facility. In total, the lunches all volunteers made that day helped to feed 1,973 children.

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Pictured above from left to right: Meghan Donaldson (Broadview Homes Calgary), Vickie Cugnet (Sterling Homes Calgary) and Alexandria on vegetable-cutting duty.

Alexandria said she was blown away by how efficient BB4K’s regular volunteers were and how big of an impact a program like BB4K can have.

“The aspect that really pulled at my heartstrings was that there are children who will use this service every day of their school career, from kindergarten to grade 12,” said Alexandria. “It does give you hope knowing for that one meal a day, they can rely on being fed.”

The difficult economy in Calgary, where many people have been laid off or can't find work, can put families in unexpected situations that often affect children, noted Alexandria.

Amy agreed that the volunteer experience was an eye-opening one and made her think about her own family.

“I was quite fortunate to grow up never worrying about having a lunch at school,” said Amy. “Now that I have a child of my own, I can't imagine the strain on a family who is struggling to make ends meet and deciding if they have the funds to make a lunch for their child or to keep their electricity on. BB4K helps so that families don’t have to make those hard choices.”

Pictured below: Earl Raatz (NuVista Homes Calgary) on sealing-bags-of-oranges duty.

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The program also helps remove the stigma of a child asking for a lunch, Amy added, as it works with schools to explain to kids how everyone needs help with something, whether that be their math homework or their lunch.

The partnership between the Southern Alberta Region, Qualico Communities Calgary and BB4K will involve Qualico employees making lunches in the company’s lunchroom once a month for the entire school year. Staff will be able to socialize with their team while shopping for, prepping, and delivering lunches to schools within some of Qualico's communities.

Amy and Alexandria said they are both excited about the partnership and how it will impact the Qualico team this coming year.

“Being a part of something bigger in the city really makes you feel proud to be a Calgarian,” said Alexandria. “It really does come full circle. Eventually, the children who are fed today will graduate and join the workforce and may be part of the companies and groups that will work to feed the next generation of kids.”

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