As the global COVID-19 pandemic hit Calgary, Brown Bagging for Calgary’s Kids (BB4CK) knew, for a variety of reasons, they had to close their kitchen. But that’s not stopping them from feeding hungry kids.
In addition to a grocery gift card support program where parents can request $30 per child in the home, the organization has revived its Food Finder YYC initiative where food providers sign on to offer free food for kids. Parents can visit foodfinderyyc.com to consult a map with details on where and when food can be picked up, or use BB4CK’s hotline.
“They can text the word ‘food’ to [587-318-0232] and then they can have a conversation to find out where in their community either today or tomorrow they can access food. So, if a certain location is not able to provide for, say, a Thursday, they just wouldn’t come up in the communication,” says Tanya Koshowski, executive director of BB4CK.
Under normal circumstances, BB4CK is able to feed 5,000 kids per day. To address hunger needs outside of the school year, it first launched Food Finder YYC in 2017 as a pilot project. It ran again in 2018 before being paused so that the organization could explore new options, but was revived rapidly in the wake of COVID-19.
At press time, there are eight locations where you can pick up food, including all three Bro’Kin Yolk locations, both Gravity Espresso & Wine Bar locations, Inner City Brewing, Ollia Macarons & Tea and two different Youth Centres of Calgary locations.
Restaurants and other food providers that are compliant with AHS guidelines and COVID-19 safety guidelines are welcome to apply to be a partner. Donations are also needed during this time. This page has more information on becoming a food provider and this one has information on donating.
“Daily, we are getting new requests for families who are in need. And that is our goal — to make sure that all those families that are in need are getting some support through gift cards and Food Finder,” says Koshowski.
Finally, BB4CK is working with partners at Nutrition Students Teachers Exercising with Parents (NSTEP) to offer educational resources on how to budget for nutritious meals. More info on that is at bb4ck.org.