With escalating rates of inflation, food-insecure kids need our support now more than ever.

The mother of a family who accesses our support currently works two jobs, while her husband works full time. Yet they are still just scraping by. This week, our agency partner contacted us to let us know: “This family cried when I gave them gift cards. This has been a saving grace because inflation has hit them really hard. With the gift cards, they were able to buy their kids the fresh produce they could not afford otherwise.”

We’ve all been shocked by the ever-growing spike in our grocery bills this year. Alberta faced an 8.4% jump in inflation in June and a 7.4% increase in July. You can imagine the increased stress for the 1 in 5 children across our city who are food insecure because their household lacks the income to meet their basic needs. 

But with your support, we can help parents overcome yet another major obstacle to ensure their children enjoy a life filled with discovery, connection, and meaning.

Research shows that food-insecure households spend much less than food-secure households on their basic needs, especially food. This type of evidence is one of the primary drivers behind our pioneering shift away from food provision to a more dignified grocery gift card program.    Our research with families in need uncovered how our grocery gift card program enables many parents to redistribute some of their household food budget so they can pay essential bills such as rent and utilities. The gift cards also enable them to stretch their food dollars by taking advantage of bulk purchases, promotions, sales, and price-matching programs at a convenient store location of their choice.

iCAN recognizes that food insecurity is not a standalone issue. It is simply the most common symptom of inadequate income and poverty. The current hike in the cost of living quickly consumes any money that low-income households have saved for unexpected expenses, emergencies, or job losses. The financial shock could lead to an increase in the proportion of children across our city who suddenly live in food-insecure households. 

This is why we are doubling our efforts to raise at least $1.2 million this year. We are determined to meet the rising demand for support from our network of frontline agency partners who help us target families with kids who are most in need. We remain eternally grateful to the generous donors and sponsors who have already gone the extra mile this year to inspire hope among thousands of food-insecure kids across Calgary.

As the parents of another family informed us: “Receiving assistance for my children with the gift cards has been incredibly helpful and stress relieving.  Healthy eating has become more challenging due to the rising cost of groceries, so this is definitely a life saver to us. Thank you for providing this much needed program, we are very blessed and grateful!”

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

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

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 www.synthesist.pro  

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 bobbi@icanforkids.ca.

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