Weekends and More was a 2014-15 pilot program between the Calgary Food Bank and the Calgary Board of Education (CBE) whose purpose is to address the issue of food insecurity over the weekend for school-aged children. Children are often protected from hunger while at school through in-school food programs or by teachers themselves feeding these children. However, weekends were beyond the capacity of traditional weekday programs. Working alongside the CBE, the Calgary Food Bank researched weekend food-support programs from all over North America and together completed a thorough year-long pilot project which began in three CBE schools. Together, we forged an appropriate route that could provide emergency food to students identified as needing nutritional support over the weekend. This also created an opportunity to discuss, with families, the various supports available within the community. This collaborative solution could not have been possible without the sponsorship of WAM Development Group and other private donors. These sponsors, ensured the Calgary Food Bank and the CBE could provide healthy, nutritious food for the children identified over the weekend.
In the first year, three schools participated and identified 240 students who received 1,929 hampers. The program grew to include three additional schools in the first year. On Jan. 19, James McAra, CEO of the Calgary Food Bank stated, “we are happy to announce that this project is now an official hunger prevention program to ensure that children are supported in their health and learning and are not at risk of becoming nutritionally poor.” With this announcement, the Calgary Food Bank will add four more CBE schools to receive the support of the Weekends and More program this year, with the ambition to add even more. Food insecurity can have lasting and devastating effects, especially on children. There is no doubt that feeding children has a positive impact on their academics, social interactions and health. The Weekends and More program ensures hunger is not a barrier to learning.
“The Calgary Board of Education recognizes nourished children are better learners and that nourishment is not only a weekday need. The Weekends and More initiative is an excellent example how we can all collaborate together to meet the needs of our students.” Pamela King, CBE Wards 5 & 10 Trustee
“We have been able to ensure kids are secure in where meals will come from through the weekend and it is often a very soft, caring and kind touch point for a student to have at the end of the week.” Participating School Principal
“We are thrilled to be able to help fill an important gap in providing nutritious food for children in the communities that our employees work, live and care for.” Darren Durstling, WAM Development Group, Sponsor