Calgary woman says free lunch she got in school inspired her to help others

A Calgary woman is giving back to her community after receiving the precious gift of a school lunch when she was a kid.

Some of Nancy’s memories of elementary school in Calgary are sitting with her friends at lunch time, not having anything to eat. Global News is withholding her last name for privacy reasons.

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“My mother was a single working mom and she did her best. There was a little bit of food in our house and we always had dinner together but there wasn’t always breakfast and there wasn’t always lunch,” Nancy said.

Sometimes kids would offer half a sandwich. Nancy said it was hard to focus on school.

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“I would feel tired and lethargic. An inability to concentrate while you’re in class and not wanting to engage and participate because you’re more focused on being hungry,” Nancy said.

Fortunately, a teacher saw Nancy’s troubles and connected her with Brown Bagging for Calgary’s Kids, an organization that delivers lunches to schools.

“We are seeing the families are struggling to make ends meet and they really want to do the best they can, but with the impact of what’s happened in our world families are struggling,” said Tanya Koshowski, executive director with Brown Bagging for Calgary’s Kids.

Volunteers with Brown Bagging for Calgary’s Kids are still making lunches but they are also mailing gift cards to kids who can’t be in school now because of the pandemic.

“The experience we have had with the grocery gift cards and the response we had from families is that they are extremely grateful. It’s just a little bit of extra support, it’s not the whole grocery bill,” Koshowski said.

So much changed for Nancy once she got lunch at school. She just graduated from the Alberta University of the Arts.

She was laid off from her part-time job when COVID hit but immediately signed up to be a volunteer at Brown Bagging for Calgary’s Kids, helping kids who are facing the same struggles she once did.

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Click to play video 'Feeding Calgary Kids' Feeding Calgary Kids

Feeding Calgary Kids – Sep 9, 2020

“Right now during COVID, realizing that everyone is struggling and going through things, I just want to be able to make a difference,” Nancy said.

Brown Bagging for Calgary’s Kids is now feeding about 4,500 kids every day in Calgary. The organization has been helping families in Calgary for the past 30 years and relies on donations. The organization has a goal of raising $50,000 through the “Give Where you Live” campaign.

© 2020 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

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