Many households across Alberta are gearing up to share a Thanksgiving Day meal with loved ones on the second Monday of October. Thanks to our generous donors, I Can for Kids (iCAN) will be able to reach out to hundreds of food-insecure children and families to ensure they have access to enough resources to enjoy the same opportunity. Immediately after, the United Nations will host its annual World Food Day on October 16th to raise awareness of food insecurity and poverty across the globe. This year’s theme is Leave No One Behind. We couldn’t agree more!
The number of people who can’t afford a healthy diet has reached staggering proportions due to the socioeconomic aftereffects of the pandemic. This is particularly true in Calgary. More than 1 in 5 households and 1 in 5 children across our province experience the ongoing physical, social, and emotional harms of food insecurity. Alberta has now reached the highest rate of food insecurity and severe food insecurity across Canada.
In response to this stark reality, iCAN has implemented a new grocery gift card program that enables everyone to take meaningful action that supports food-insecure children and families living across our city.
World Food Day encourages every system, sector, and person to create new and effective solutions that alleviate the longstanding issue of food insecurity. That’s exactly what iCAN had in mind when we shifted from a food provision model to a grocery gift card program. And our novel approach inspires local action that coincides with several of this year’s World Food Day recommendations:
- We help make healthy diets affordable for households who live on inadequate incomes. Our research shows that parents use our grocery gift cards to improve the quality of their children’s diets. They buy more fresh fruit, vegetables, and meats, and they can now afford costly foods that don’t trigger allergies, sensitivities, and health issues.
- We invest energy to promote innovation and working together. iCAN collaborates regularly with recipients, other charities, donors, funders, and agency partners to identify ways to enhance the impact of our services. Our new grocery gift card program has led to significant operational efficiencies, reduced workload for agency partners, and greater flexibility and peace of mind for clients.
- We embrace that knowledge is power and sharing is caring. We are publishing a series of blogs to disseminate the compelling findings from our research. Our study explored the experiences and perceptions of gift card recipients and agency partners. All participants indicated that they much prefer our gift card model compared to our former summer food program and to food hampers in general.
As we recognize World Food Day this year, we also acknowledge the researchers, policy makers, donors, agencies, and allies in the charitable sector whose efforts help strengthen evidence-based solutions for food insecurity.
Check out these free ideas to help you celebrate World Food Day 2022:
- a free children’s activity book
- the High Level Bridge in Edmonton will be showcased in blue at sunrise and sunset
- watch Niagara Falls turn blue online for 15 minutes starting at 8:00 pm MST
- enjoy the CN Tower lit up in blue online for an hour starting at sunset EST
- the TORONTO sign will glow blue for the entire day if you happen to be there
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 email@example.com.