Autism Calgary Community Pantry

The Cause

Autism Calgary is seeking support for the development of a Community Pantry program to meet the needs of low income individuals and families living with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) who face food insecurity issues and are unable to access other food resources in Calgary including the Calgary Food Bank.
Individuals or families that are deemed eligible by our Family Support Workers (see eligibility criteria below) will be given a four month access period to use the pantry. This will entitle them to one hamper per week for this period. Throughout this period participants will be supported by our Family Support staff to address the root causes of their food insecurity or to find sustainable ways to meet their essential needs. After four months their eligibility will be reassessed.

Who Will it Benefit?

Every month Autism Calgary assists individuals and families who struggle to buy food, household and hygiene essentials. Many of these families have tried to utilize the Food Bank as well as other food resources in the city with great difficulty. Due to the high caregiving needs of children with ASD and the unpredictable nature of the disorder, visiting the foodbank and other food resources can be extremely problematic. In addition many of these families face multiple marginalization due to other vulnerabilities such as being a new immigrant to Canada, disability of parents, mental health and social isolation due to ASD, etc. Therefore having a food hamper available at our centre - an autism friendly community resource centre that the families already visit - will dramatically increase their access to food resources. In addition the Calgary Food Bank only provides a maximum of seven hampers per year to any individual or family. For many of our families who this is simply not enough.

For independent or semi-independent adults with ASD their social, communication and executive functioning impairments often prevent them from successfully accessing food resources, even with our staff’s referral and direct support. Accessing the Food Bank and other food resources requires understanding specifically what food they are eligible to receive, interacting with staff, volunteers and other clients appropriately, properly describing their needs and battling crowded, loud and malodourous environments (which are exacerbated by their sensory processing impairments). All of these requirements act as a barrier for these individuals due to their autism related impairments. We have many adults struggling with less than adequate food because they have had such difficulty in accessing community food resources.

Help us to help the growing number of individuals and families living with Autism in Calgary who are struggling to meet their needs!