Soccer Without Boundaries Food Hamper Program for Seniors
When the COVID-19 pandemic led to the economic shut down in Calgary, Soccer Without Boundaries immediately shifted our focus from children, youth, and women’s programs to food security. We began by providing food hampers to families in our community and who were previously involved in our regular programs, but word quickly spread around the city and now we are providing weekly food hampers to over 300 vulnerable families throughout Calgary. As of August 1, we have provided food for 840 individuals for a total of 11,970 times that Calgarians experiencing food insecurity have benefited from this program. Through this program we have learned that there are cultural gaps in traditional food bank systems. New Canadians, and in particular the African diaspora, are not familiar with a large portion of the food provided by traditional food banks and, as a result, a lot of food ends up landfills. We have designed this food hamper program to be culturally appropriate. While SWB hampers include pantry staples such as rice, sugar, oil, and fresh produce such as potatoes, carrots, onions, and apples, we have been able to cater our hampers around each family’s diet.
One of the more vulnerable demographics that we have been serving is immigrant senior citizens. This group of people is especially isolated and at risk. The seniors we have been serving are unable to be in a senior’s home due to finances, language, and dietary restrictions and we have been working with this population to understand their personal needs. We are providing groceries and cooked meals to our seniors who are unable to prepare their own food, and as a result, we have been able to support small, minority-owned businesses. Additionally, we have been able to work with the medical issues of each senior, ensuring that they can stay as healthy as possible. At present we are supporting seven immigrant seniors, but this Community Fund Program would create the ability to expand this program to 20 seniors in our community.
Who Will it Benefit?
The 20 seniors that we will be able to serve in this expanded program will be the main beneficiaries of this program. Their families will also benefit from the program as the care and cooking for this group of 20 seniors will no longer fall on their shoulders. The care givers are primarily women, so this will take a major task off their plate so they are more easily able to work and care for their children. The 833 other individuals in our hamper program will benefit as their funding will be separate from the funding for our seniors.