More than one third of food bank users in Canada are children.
While providing food to children in need is important, it’s not a permanent solution. Real change can only come through action in other areas. Which is why Food Banks Canada has developed various programs and policy and advocacy initiatives to tackle child hunger, head on.
Children represent 400,000 visits to food banks in Canada each month.
Year after year, one of the most alarming findings to emerge from Food Banks Canada’s annual HungerCount report is how heavily overrepresented children are at food banks across the country.
To address child hunger in Canada, while we continue to advocate for meaningful policy change to address the root causes of childhood food insecurity in Canada, Food Banks Canada in collaboration with food banks across the country provide programs focused on providing the nutritional food children need.
Programs that Address Child Hunger
Learn more about a few examples of these important programs
AFTER THE BELL
In 2022, through the After the Bell program, 175,000 healthy food packs were delivered to 198 communities in every province and territory, including hard-to-reach communities like the Bella Coola Valley on B.C.’s Central Coast and remote, fly-in areas like Clyde River, Nunavut.
“The most significant impact of the After the Bell program is that fewer kids were hungry, and kids felt included. The food included in the After the Bell packs are very kid friendly and didn’t require an adult to make it for them. This made a big difference in kids having control over their own food security. If they had these packs in their house, and felt hungry, they could easily go and get something for themselves to eat, and older kids could make sure younger kids did the same. They could also share the food with others who needed it. Personally, when I passed out bags to kids directly, they were always so eager to get food meant just for them!”
– Shontell MacInnis, Food Bank Volunteer, Niqinik Nuatsivik Nunavut Food Bank
KAMLOOPS FOOD BANKS
CALGARY FOOD BANK
“Food insecurity can have long-term and devastating effects, especially on children. Being able to provide children with healthy, nutritious food through four core Calgary Food Bank programs allows us to ensure the youngest of our clients don’t go hungry whether it’s when they are in school, or at home, or attending a community program. The Calgary Food Bank works closely with school boards and Alberta Health Services to ensure nutritious food is being distributed to children, through various avenues, and thus the impact of distributing this food is profound and has supported many children across the city.”
-Sandeep K. Lotay, Program Supervisor
Staff at the Calgary Food Bank are part of two coalitions that are addressing feeding kids in school not only on a city-wide scale but also on a provincial and federal level.
Programs offered that combat child hunger include:
- Weekends and More: a partnership with the Calgary school boards to provide students who rely on weekday school food programs, with nutritious food on the weekends. Food items come from an approved list created with the help of Alberta Health Services Dietitians. Items are mostly shelf-stable and easy to prepare so a student does not require an adult to be present. Teachers, at approved participating schools, assess students and determine who would benefit from receiving a hamper. This program is aimed at supporting the food security needs of chronically hungry students on the weekends. The hampers are delivered to each participating school and the teachers provide a hamper to the appropriate student before they go home for the weekend.
Last Fiscal Year 4,018 Weekends and More hampers were distributed by 12 schools providing 28,126 meals to kids.
- Purchasing Power: provides cost savings to non-profit organizations with budgets for food, as it leverages the Calgary Food Bank’s buying power from its network of suppliers to offer discounted prices to the organization’s food purchases. The Breakfast Club of Canada (BCC) partnership is part of the Purchasing Power Program. Through this program, schools participating in the Breakfast Club of Canada programming can purchase food items at a reduced price and receive their orders from the Calgary Food Bank, saving staff time that would otherwise be required to purchase the food.Currently, there are 45 schools across the city that receive breakfast content over the school year.
- Food Link: provides food and supplies to qualified organizations so they can focus their resources on important program delivery dealing with root causes of food insecurity. Schools access this program to provide their students with meals and snacks through the school year and there are also some organizations accessing the program for various child-based programs in the city that run throughout the year.
- Emergency Food Hamper: Through this program, the Calgary Food Bank supports the youngest of our clients with baby hampers where infant formula and baby food is provided for babies up to 12 months old. As part of receiving an Emergency Food Hamper, the amount and type of milk distributed to households with children up to 18 years of age also varies based on Canada’s Food Guide. Each child in a household, aged 1-3 years old, receives a carton of homogenized milk as part of an Emergency Food Hamper.Last Fiscal Year, the Calgary Food Bank distributed 12, 852 baby hampers.
Communities across Canada coming together to feed children
With children representing 400,000 visits to Canadian food banks each month, there is still a long road to go in our journey toward ending child hunger. Yet with your help, we may just get there a little sooner.HERE’S HOW YOU CAN HELP