Imagine starting every day hungry and unable to focus or think about anything other than a growling stomach or a pounding head. Unfortunately, this reality exists for some children in Calgary. Last year, over 65,700 children made up 39 per cent of Calgary Food Bank clients. That number only includes those that come to the food bank with their families.
In 2014, working with the Calgary Board of Education, the Weekends and More Program (WAM) was developed to help those students who rely on food programs during the week get nutritious food on the weekends to stay healthy and learning. We agree with teachers and parents that hunger should not be a barrier to learning. There is no doubt that feeding children have a positive impact on their academic performance, social interactions, and health.
Students in the WAM program are identified by their teacher, counsellor or resource worker. They receive nutritious hampers containing two days’ worth of kid-friendly food that discreetly fit into a backpack. Included are items that will involve minimal cooking or preparation. Food items come from an approved list created with the help of Alberta Health Services Nutritionists.
WAM hampers are a catalyst for students and staff to have a conversation about life at home to help identify the root cause of their food insecurity. Reasons can be simple as a family not being aware a food bank or other services exist. Connecting the entire family to other community supports is positive for everyone.
Sample WAM Hamper
2017 WAM IMPACT
STUDENT LIVES AFFECTED
WAM HAMPERS DISTRIBUTED