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Calgary Cares: Thousands of free lunches being given to students

The Bowness Food Network
The Bowness Food Network gives out two bagged lunches on June 4, 2020. Tom Reynolds/Global News

An idea from two Calgary teachers at a Bowness school has meant more than 9,000 free lunches for students in the community.

In mid-March, Alberta schools closed due to COVID-19. According to two local teachers, this meant the loss of up to two meals a day for many students who relied on free breakfast and lunch at their school.

Inspired by a free-lunch initiative at Signal Hill restaurant Bro’Kin Yolk, the pair soon partnered with the business to give away 50 lunches each day as The Bowness Food Network.

READ MORE: Calgary’s Sikh community offers ‘really awesome’ food aid during COVID-19 pandemic

The bagged lunches include a sandwich, healthy snack item, juice box and a piece of fruit.

“We wanted to make sure with school being out, they’re still getting lunches, they’re still getting fed,” said parent volunteer Becky Franklin.

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From mid-march to early April, word of the free lunches had spread in the community as more Bowness families were facing unemployment.

As a result, the initiative partnered with multiple food agencies to meet the demand, including Rouge restaurant and local foodie, Julie Van Rosendaal.

READ MORE: COVID-19: Alberta schools to stay closed for rest of academic year; province eyeing early summer start

Upwards of 175 lunches are now being distributed per day, five days a week at the Bowness Boys and Girls Club. Currently, a team of 20 volunteers work at the site to prepare them.

In order to meet demand and continue the program through the summer months, the initiative is asking for donations through their GoFundMe.

“They say it costs about $2 per lunch to feed people, so $25,000 will cover us to be able to continue serving lunches throughout the summer,” Franklin said.