An apple a day keeps the doctor away. So let’s make sure all families can afford to buy apples

Mar 27, 2023

Your donations help food-insecure families stay healthy and out of hospital. This means your support not only benefits thousands of kids in need, but also your family, friends, community, colleagues, and workplaces. Together, we can create a wave of positive change that reduces the tremendous burden on our healthcare system and ensures all children have equal opportunity to experience a life of well-being.

During an interview with one of our recipients, we asked a mother of three how she and her husband would describe the benefits of the I Can for Kids (iCAN) grocery gift card program. “Well,” she answered, “the grocery gift cards help families get on their feet. It’s that simple. The cards provide so much freedom to lead your life with less stress and more choice. Most of all, the grocery gift cards make me feel like my family isn’t at as much risk for all sorts of problems.”

Research shows that she’s right! When children grow up with access to enough healthy food and other resources that promote health and well-being, they face a much lower risk of developing illnesses and chronic conditions as they mature into adulthood. This is why iCAN consistently assures donors that their contributions go so much further than filling empty bellies. Your support for our grocery gift card program empowers many families in Calgary with the ability to pay for nutritious food. This could then enable them to afford the cost of other healthy options, such as physical activity, exercise, and health therapies or treatments.

Food-insecure households often tell us that our grocery gift card program helps improve their mental health and strengthen their sense of belonging, confidence, and dignity. Numerous recipients have also noted that our gift cards make it easier for them to afford medications and expensive products required to manage food allergies and serious health conditions, such as diabetes and kidney disease. Based on the strong link between food insecurity and healthcare costs, an income-based response such as our grocery gift card program can potentially lead to reduced stress on our health system. 

Why is there a link between food insecurity and greater use of the health system? Experts identify many probable factors to explain this troubling relationship, such as: 

  • greater levels of chronic pain or poorly managed pain
  • higher rates of living with multiple chronic health conditions
  • more vulnerability to depression and anxiety
  • reducing or skipping prescription medications due to a lack of money

Healthcare statistics across Canada show that adults who experience food insecurity:

Fortunately, proposed income policies have the potential to improve community health and decrease healthcare costs by reducing and preventing food insecurity among low-income households. In the meantime, iCAN is keen to collaborate with stakeholders from all sectors to target grocery gift cards to the tens of thousands of food-insecure children and families across Calgary who face much greater risks of negative health outcomes. 

To join iCAN’s expanding list of sponsors and champions, check out the different ways you can get involved or donate

To learn more about I Can for Kids and their unique approach to childhood food insecurity, visit 

About Donald Barker

Donald has worked as a registered dietitian for more than 25 years. He also has a professional background in communications and has long advocated for populations who face adverse, unjust, or systemic barriers that lead to higher rates of poor social, mental, emotional, and physical health outcomes. Donald currently volunteers as an Advisor with iCAN to support our transition towards evidence-based approaches that help improve the well-being of children in Calgary who live in low-income and food-insecure households. You can learn more about Donald at

About I Can for Kids Foundation

I Can for Kids works closely with multiple agency partners to target and distribute grocery gift cards to food-insecure families who are most in need. The iCAN grocery gift card program is a more dignified and inclusive approach to dealing with food insecurity, allowing families to shop where everyone else shops and to choose foods that are appropriate for their health and cultural needs. Last year, iCAN supported more than 34,000 children across Calgary.

For more information and media inquiries, please contact iCAN Executive Director, Bobbi Turko at

The power of dignity

The power of dignity

In this blog, we share valuable insights about dignity from current evidence and from the families who benefit from our program.

read more

Want to be part of the solution?