A message from our founders

Dear friends:

Throughout 2023, your generous contributions continued to fuel a major shift in how we empower children and families across Calgary who struggle with food insecurity. Research has proven that our grocery gift card model offers food-insecure households the additional benefits of greater dignity, autonomy, and flexibility. And due to your generous support, we strengthened our partnerships with dozens of frontline agencies who targeted our program to more than 34,000 kids this past year.

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We’re now at a critical crossroads. More than 25% of children in Calgary struggle with the effects of food insecurity. We haven’t been able to reach them all. Yet.

Thankfully, your commitment continues to drive our mission to shed new light on a more efficient and more dignified way to address this crisis and bring our vision of a community where all children have an equal opportunity to thrive closer to reality.

We’ve witnessed an incredible sense of community among the amazing donors and champions who power our efforts to rethink the way our city responds to food insecurity. We published our first-of-its-kind research in the leading journal, Public Health Nutrition, to share the benefits and advantages of our grocery gift card model. And we’ve been honoured to mentor other organizations as they implemented their own gift card programs.

In this report, we share how your contributions helped pave a promising and brighter path for thousands of food-insecure kids across Calgary. We also shine a spotlight on our relationships with the trusted frontline agency partners who target our program to food-insecure children and families in greatest need. Those relationships really are the secret ingredient for success. And we could never forget our tireless Board members and volunteers whose hard work bolstered considerable success over the past year.

The effects of food insecurity can cloud a child’s sense of direction, hope, and self-worth. Together, we’ll continue to empower families with the dignity, choice, and confidence to raise healthy, happy, and resilient children.

With heartfelt gratitude,

Bobbi Turko,
Co-founder & Executive Director

Sutton Garner,

When you give to the I Can for Kids grocery gift card program, you’re sending a powerful signal to the entire city:

We’ve established a more efficient and dignified response to food insecurity that just a few years ago would have seemed impossible to achieve.

Thanks to your commitment and generosity, we targeted:

$645,650 in grocery gift cards to 34,000+ food-insecure kids living in 203 communities across Calgary.


The champions who invest in our program so more children in our city can thrive.

agency partners

The collaborators who enable us to target our support to families in greatest need.


The supporters whose commitment and contributions are central to our success.


The pathways we follow to build trust with food-insecure families.

I was impressed and inspired by the I Can for Kids journey to becoming the first charity in Canada to transition away from traditional food hampers and offer a new option.

Your income-based response to food insecurity provides dignity, autonomy, and food choice. This is particularly important in supporting the cultural diversity of Calgarians. I’m happy to see that the impact of your approach is also supported through the research findings with the University of Calgary. I hope your efforts continue to inform policy and program solutions to combat the ever-increasing rates of food insecurity.

Sarah Woodgate

President, Calgary Housing

Beyond the numbers

Taking a deeper dive into the client experience, the lived experience, is the best first step. Because food insecurity has always been about more than just food.

*recipient names have been changed

The kids you

A timely response to help navigate immense obstacles

Having to rely on government support while caring for a son with special needs and behavioural struggles was tough enough for Kanti*. But when her child’s father died unexpectedly, it overwhelmed her. She was left to cope alone. With the demands of her son’s complex needs and their crushing grief, she couldn’t hold down a full-time job. Her son needed a specialized diet, and current food programs couldn’t meet his unique needs. Things became untenable when Kanti’s car was vandalized because she was no longer able to transport her child to frequent medical visits and back to school. She was being forced into an impossible situation: pay the insurance deductible or buy food. An agency partner provided her I Can for Kids grocery gift cards so she could cover her deductible and still afford to feed her child. The support of our donors provided instant relief to empower this desperate mom to maintain her son’s treatment and well-being.

The parents
you inspired

A father gets some much needed understanding and compassion

Joe* suffers from involuntary tics caused by Tourette Syndrome. Everywhere he and his daughter go, his tics draw unwanted attention. Having TS means struggling with social interactions, relationships, and functioning in the workplace. It’s a scenario that mirrors the challenges faced by many individuals and families living with disabilities. Joe is a dedicated stay-at-home dad battling both Tourette Syndrome and food insecurity. The stigma around TS prevented Joe from finding employment opportunities and his family’s level of food insecurity grew worse when he had to transition to low-income disability benefits. With limited control over his diet and a desire to provide a healthy upbringing for his daughter, Joe found solace in I Can for Kids grocery gift cards. The support empowered him to choose quality food and create cherished memories with his child, all while preserving his dignity in a world that often fails to understand the unique struggles of those with disabilities.

The families you empowered

Grocery gift cards foster confidence and independence in the face of adversity

After Samira* immigrated to Canada, she began to experience domestic violence and needed to escape with her three children despite having no job and a low level of English skills. The I Can for Kids grocery gift cards were an essential support to ensure she could buy her children enough familiar foods while she worked with an agency partner to get back on her feet in a new country. The I Can for Kids program acted as a major protective factor for this mother by easing her immense fear about whether she truly create a better life for her family without any support. With grocery gift cards, she could finally experienced the feeling of financial independence and security and became resilient in her choice to leave her abusive relationship.

The burdens you helped ease

A resilient mom builds a safe and healthy home for her children

Alysha* found the courage to flee a very violent home to live in a local shelter with her five children under the age of eight. She was still nursing the youngest child and two of the middle children had been diagnosed with autism and required special diets. Her eldest child had Celiac disease, an autoimmune condition that demands strict nutrition intervention. The cost of these dietary restrictions placed an impossible financial burden on Alysha. She couldn’t meet her children’s special needs until an I Can for Kids agency partner provided grocery gift cards during her stay at the shelter. Now that her kids were well nourished, she was able to focus on securing a new place to live. Once Alysha was established, additional cards were provided so she could purchase the food staples she needed. Even as resilient and courageous as Alysha was, her story shows that having access to a simple thing like a grocery gift card can be enough to tip the scales in her family’s favour.

How often families needed support

Half of all families needed support 3-6 times per year to maintain stable housing and feed their children amidst the rising cost of living

One quarter of all families needed support once per month due to major financial setbacks (unemployment, disability, divorce)

One quarter of all families needed support once per year due to unexpected financial shocks (eviction, sudden job loss, death)

Collaborative impact

Mental health

Financial resilience

Affordable housing

Family supports

I Can for Kids is highly committed to collaborate with agencies from all sectors who share our mission to alleviate food insecurity.

As more and more organizations recognize the considerable advantages of grocery gift cards over traditional food programs, we hope to cultivate strategic collaboration across the charitable sector. We are committed to fostering an integrated, unified, and efficient network of support that truly meets the needs of food-insecure households in our city and beyond.

Check out who we’re already working with: Our Partners

Thank you for your on-going support for Closer to Home through monthly donations of grocery gift cards to families in need.

By providing monthly support, you increased our capacity in the community. This means that we helped more families and children in the ways that they needed most. We couldn’t have done it without you.

Karen Olivier

Chief Executive Officer
, Closer to Home Community Services

Our collaboration with the Town of Drumheller leads the way

We teamed up with Drumheller to offer our expertise and guidance as they initiated a grocery gift card program across their region. Their JUST Groceries program launched in May 2023, making Drumheller the first municipality to oversee and implement this type of innovative approach!

We’re always excited to work with like-minded organizations looking to create a shared vision, high-performing partnership, and, most importantly, more equitable support for food-insecure populations everywhere.

It’s so great to partner with I Can for Kids to ensure our collective impact grows beyond just Calgary and Drumheller! 

Their generous offer to share time, insights, and expertise was invaluable in getting our own grocery gift card program off the ground. It’s nice to know that innovative solutions can extend way beyond just one city or one organization. Effective solutions should grow, and Drumheller is thrilled to be a small sprout in what will hopefully be a flourishing shift in the way we alleviate food insecurity throughout Alberta.

Heather Colber

Mayor of Drumheller

What’s ahead

In 2024, we’re embarking on a thrilling ride towards our ten-year milestone! Your support helped launch the next chapter of our adventure, and over the upcoming year, we plan to explore even more horizons to:

Empower more families

We plan to get more grocery gift cards into the hands of food-insecure kids and families in Calgary.

Expand our reach

We’re looking to team up with additional social service agencies and extend our program to more communities.

Spark big change

We’re sticking to evidence-based solutions, inspiring collaboration, and opening more hearts and minds for greater impact.

Boost the support

We aim to harness the city’s generosity and ease the load on thousands more children and families in need.

Without support from I Can for Kids, my family would suffer.

Especially right now with inflation and the way food costs keep going up! I say this as tears fill my eyes. The way your agency has helped with these cards has literally been the difference of a choice between lunch or dinner to now choosing to have both. As a mom, it breaks my heart to admit that, but this is why supports are so vital in a community. It gives us room to breathe and to find our footing again. The grocery gift cards give the kids nourishment and the ability to focus on the important things like growing up and school! Thank you again and again!

Single mother, 3 children

Thank you for choosing to build people up.

It’s clear that you value their wellness – and that’s both rare and beautiful. Most people are so busy that they don’t see what’s actually happening. And then there’s people like you who see beyond the veil. You understand because you haven’t taken your eyes off your mission. Thank you for being in-distractable. Thank you over and over for pouring your care into my family.

Father, 1 child

Why you give

Our generous donors are the lifeblood of our grocery gift card program. Although each of them chooses to give for very personal reasons, it’s clear that all our champions are motivated by a profound desire to foster positive change in the lives of children and families grappling with food insecurity. They contribute because they understand that food means so much more to a child than mere sustenance; it’s the spark that fuels adventure, learning, health, friendships, and dreams.

In your own words:

The longstanding partnership between the Calgary Flames Foundation and I Can for Kids is an ideal way to ensure thousands of local kids continue to thrive despite the ongoing challenges of current economic conditions.

We’re inspired by the innovative approach this charity has adopted to boost the physical, social, and emotional well-being of food-insecure families in our city. This valued collaboration offers the Foundation an efficient vehicle to reach many children in a meaningful way to help kids play and prosper in our community.

Candice Goudie

Executive Director, Calgary Flames Foundation

One big reason why we’ve chosen to support I Can for Kids is our admiration for the way they are disrupting the conventions and inefficiencies of addressing food insecurity in kids and families through food programs.

Once a food program themselves, we totally respect the way they innovated a different path that ensures families can get healthy food in a focused, dignified, and highly impactful way. That is what innovation is all about – creating real change with real results!

Bryan Trudel

Co-Founder and CFO, Avatar Innovations Ltd

Inter Pipeline is proud to support programs and initiatives whose goals include building a self-sustaining legacy in the communities where our employees live and work.

I Can for Kids does just that. Through their innovative grocery gift card program, they create lasting impacts on the overall well-being of families in Calgary and area. We look forward to continuing our partnership with I Can for Kids and learning from their evidence-based approach to addressing food insecurity in our community.

Breanne Oliver

People & Stakeholder Relations

Our innovative program is the first of its kind to tackle the root cause of food insecurity: inadequate income.

And innovation only thrives through the support of generous donors like you.