Small Ideas: $10,000


Hunger doesn't take summer vacation...and neither do we.

In 2015, 11-year old Sutton Garner was watching the news on TV with her mom when she learned that many American children go hungry when school nutrition programs end for the summer break. Wondering if the same thing was true in Calgary, Sutton did some research and discovered kids in her own city were also suffering and it was having a serious impact on their future.

So she decided to do something about it...

School nutrition programs play a critical role in helping children build healthy minds and bodies. A meal received at school may be a hungry child’s only meal of the day.

Sadly, the majority of low-income kids who depend on subsidized nutrition programs during the school year do not have the same access to a free meal during the summer. The resulting hunger can have an overwhelming effect on their physical, emotional and social health, and delay their academic performance by up to two months at the start of the school year. The impact can last well into adulthood, forcing kids to face a future of being unhealthy and uneducated.

Whether affected by a job loss, a health crisis, or escaping a life of abuse, thousands of Calgarians struggle to put food on the table every day. Rising food prices, increased child care costs over summer, and back-to-school expenses make it increasingly difficult for parents to provide basic needs for their children.

That is what inspired Sutton to create I Can for Kids, a unique feeding program that reaches the hungriest kids in Calgary where they live and play, all summer long.

Through a network of 20 trusted frontline agency and community partners, I Can for Kids provides child-friendly non-perishable food packs, fresh produce, peanut butter and an assortment of other nutritious items to school-aged children and youth who would otherwise go hungry during the summer break.

Over 400 volunteers of all ages come together in our warehouse each spring to assemble more than 20,000 food packs for distribution over the summer. In 2018, I Can for Kids provided over 64,000 meals (20,000 food packs) to hungry kids through 70 distribution points across the city. As the only agency providing this type of service in Calgary, we have quickly become a critical resource for thousands of kids impacted by emergency, temporary and chronic food insecurity.

“I never expected to find myself in a situation where having food would be a concern. My family and I have been through a whole lot in the last four months and sometimes in this journey I have found that we need extra help with food, clothing or basic items. We have been lucky enough to benefit from the I Can for Kids program, this program has saved us more than once. I do not know how we would have made it, especially through the summer, without I Can for Kids. Thank you I Can for Kids, I will never forget how you have helped my family!” I Can for Kids recipient

We are proud to have an impact on the lives of so many children and families in our community, but the demand continues to grow. Planning is already underway for 2019 as we estimate the need for our program will increase by up to 20%. Your support will be critical to us reaching even more hungry kids as they face a summer of anxiety and isolation, worrying where their next meal will come from.

Be a summer superhero and join Sutton as she continues her fight to end summer childhood hunger in Calgary.


Co-founder Sutton Garner was honored as Calgary’s Youth Philanthropist of the Year for 2017, one of our city’s Most Compelling Calgarians of 2018 by the Calgary Herald, and she was recently featured in CTV's Inspired Albertans segment -

Broker supported

I Can for Kids Foundation

Location: Calgary