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

Sep 16, 2022

Updated on February 7, 2024

A mother who recently accessed our support works two jobs, while her husband works full time. Yet they are still just scraping by. This week, one of our agency partners contacted us to let us know: “This family cried when I gave them your grocery 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 the cost of living since the Consumer Price Index (CPI) began to escalate in February 2021. The CPI is a measure of the cost of essential goods and services, including food, shelter, clothing, transportation, and healthcare. For nearly three years, the most significant reasons for the year-over-year increase in the CPI include growing mortgage interest rates, the escalating cost of groceries, and major increases in home rental fees. Unfortunately, researchers predict up to an additional 4.5% rise in food prices across Canada during 2024.

With your support, I Can for Kids (iCAN) can help food-insecure parents overcome this major obstacle to ensure their children enjoy a life filled with discovery, connection, and meaning.

Research shows that food-insecure households are forced to spend much less than food-secure households on basic needs, especially food. This is one of the primary drivers behind our pioneering shift away from food provision to a more dignified grocery gift card program.  Through our research with families in need, we uncovered how our new program enables many parents to redistribute small amounts of their limited food budget to pay other essential bills, such as rent, childcare, and utilities. Our gift cards also enable them to stretch their food dollars by taking advantage of bulk purchases, promotions, sales, and price-matching programs at their preferred grocery store.

iCAN recognizes that food insecurity is not a standalone issue. It’s simply the most common symptom of inadequate income and poverty. The ongoing surge in the cost of living quickly consumes any money that lower-income households have saved to cover unexpected expenses, emergencies, stagnant or reduced wages, or even job loss. The financial shock of extreme inflation contributes to the massive increase in the proportion of children who suddenly live in food-insecure households across Alberta. We’ve now reached the point where greater than 25% of the kids in Calgary must deal with food insecurity on a daily basis. That’s more than 75,000 children and youth.  

Nonetheless, iCAN remains determined to meet the rising demand for our support through our longstanding collaboration with a network of frontline agency partners who help us target food-insecure families in greatest need. We remain eternally grateful to the generous donors and sponsors who go the extra mile to inspire hope among thousands of food-insecure kids across Calgary. And we continue to advocate for a new paradigm where effective income policies and responses eradicate food insecurity altogether.  

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 Barker 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. 

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. Explore their website to discover more about iCAN’s impact over the years.

For more information and media inquiries, please contact iCAN Executive Director, Bobbi Turko at bobbi@icanforkids.ca.

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