Food is Community.
“Food can be a vehicle for social change.
It brings people together in a way that few other activities can.”
– Anim Steela
In 2015, 141,271 Calgarians received emergency food support through the Calgary Food Bank. While that number itself is staggering, Food Banks Canada reports that 41% of clients who access emergency food services in Alberta are children.
At Kids’ Hub, we are learning just how critical access to healthy food is and how complex our relationships with food can be! Kids’ Hub is a critical hours program that is part of the Integrated School Support Program at Patrick Airlie School We have witnessed how food and interactions with food affect more than just a child’s hunger; it affects their ability to cope with challenges, relate to others, and build resilience, both emotional and social.
Offering a pre-determined healthy after school snack at a pre-determined time is not sufficient to address the need for positive food relationships at Patrick Airlie school. This year, we are adjusting our approach to include multiple food choices, times food is offered, as well as student involvement in food preparation. We’ve found that including participants in food planning and preparation has increased their desire to eat good food themselves and to share it with their friends. We are working to create food champions!
Snacks are offered throughout the day at Patrick Airlie to any student who needs it. However, there can often be a social stigma attached to eating food provided by the school. As a result of this need, we have partnered with Brown Bagging for Calgary’s Kids to enhance the snacks being offered during the school day and to engage participants in creating positive food relationships.
Students are developing food planning skills as they research and learn new recipes. They participate in the shopping for ingredients and have learned important life skills such as understanding public social cues, label reading, and team work. Twice a week, all participants are invited to help prepare the school snacks for the following week. The students love this part of their week.
For more information on Kids’ Hub: http://annualreport2015.ymcacalgary.org/integrated-school-support-program/).
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