When Sutton Garner was 11 years old, the Calgary resident saw a U.S. news story on the lack of free food programs for children in need during the summer. The story led her to wonder whether Calgary had a similar issue.
She and her mom, Bobbi Turko, did some research and found out that it was. Just like their American counterparts, Garner learned that upwards of 5,000 kids in Calgary rely on their school’s nutrition program during the academic year — but don’t have that same access once school ends.
“Once we learned that, it seemed too big to turn a blind eye to, so I Can for Kids was born,” she said.
Since 2015, the non-profit charity has been providing hungry kids in Calgary with nutritious meals and snacks throughout the summer months.
In just a short time, I Can for Kids has experienced a massive increase in demand for its summer meal program, which keeps growing year after year.
“Last summer, we provided over 64,000 meals, which is a 67-per-cent increase from last summer alone,” said Garner, adding that the growth has translated into an overall 450-per-cent increase in demand for the summer food program since it started three years ago.
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That rapid rise now sees the organization collecting donations earlier than ever before.
In partnership with West Campus Development Trust — the lead developer for University District — I Can for Kids has been collecting jars of peanut butter since late last month.
“Peanut butter is a very universal food product,” explained Garner. “It’s easily understood, easily prepared and kids of all ages really enjoy it.”
It also has a long shelf life and stores well.
I Can for Kids will be set up this Sunday at Northwestival to accept both cash and peanut butter donations.
“Northwestival is University District’s flagship winter festival,” said Emily Allert-House of West Campus Development Trust. “This is an opportunity to get the community together.”
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Northwestival runs from 1 p.m. until 6 p.m. on Sunday, Dec. 9 on Field 9 at the University of Calgary. The family-friendly event is free to the public.
A list of activities happening at Northwestival can be found on its website, www.myuniversitydistrict.ca
For more ways to donate or volunteer with I Can for Kids, visit www.Icanforkids.ca