Main fundraiser photo

Bowness Food Network: Free Lunch Program!

Donation protected
Help us continue to connect kids in Calgary with a stable source of food – daily bagged lunches! 100% of funds raised here will go directly to students, families and individuals in need.  
On March 16, 2020 Alberta schools were forced to close due to COVID-19. Within the community of Bowness, a uniquely socioeconomically diverse area of the city, this closure resulted in the loss of up to two meals a day for many students and their families, many of whom relied on accessing breakfast and lunch at school each day.    

With this sudden loss in food stability, teachers in Bowness jumped into action to organize food access to impacted families. A social media post from Bro’Kin Yolk restaurant in Signal Hill offered free bagged lunches to those in need; this caught the eye of one teacher. Soon after contacting the owner, 50 students each weekday were receiving a bagged lunch comprised of a sandwich, healthy snack item, juice box and piece of fruit at no cost.    

As word spread of this pop-up food source, the need became more apparent. Luckily as the need grew, so did the generous contributions of individuals, small businesses and restaurants in the larger YYC community. CBC foodie, now commonly referred to as the city’s “Food Warrior,” Julie Van Rosendaal reached out to share her desire to support the work unfolding in Bowness. Uniquely positioned with an understanding of and connections to food industry contacts, Julie got right to it. Soon students and families in Bowness were receiving donations of milk, fresh produce and other perishable food items that had been occupying space in restaurant kitchens who were forced to close due to COVID-19.   

Into the first week of April, it became clear that this initiative was only growing; more families in the community were identifying as newly unemployed. More lunches were needed, and as we teachers returned to programming for the learning needs of our students in this evolving new normal, we also needed the support of volunteers. The call was put out for both; Rouge restaurant in Inglewood answered with more sandwiches and the community responded with a team of volunteers!   

With Julie’s support, Rouge Restaurant opened for bagged lunch production, eventually funding its efforts through regular Friday pop-up markets and growing its distribution to include sandwiches to five other sites across the city! In mid-May, as Rouge geared up to reopen to the public, lunch production shifted to The Cookbook Company Cooks upstairs kitchen, utilizing a small group of volunteers and the remaining funds raised by the Rouge team. Bro’Kin Yolk continued to fund its sandwich production, increasing its daily contribution to the Bowness site to 100 bagged lunches a day, as well as continuing to provide bagged lunches to the greater public. By the end of May, the combined efforts of these two restaurants had funded and produced nearly 9,000 sandwiches for the Bowness site alone in the span of just nine weeks.   

The need still exists and is only growing.  

Currently, lunches for the Bowness Food Network distribution site (as well as five other smaller locations around the city) are being shopped for and produced by Julie Van Rosendaal and her small team of volunteers using donated space at The Cookbook Company Cooks. Recently this effort received a small grant and Julie has established ‘Calgary’s Kitchen’ to house these funds.     

And the work continues.  

Over the next three months with no physical access to schools, (as well as community groups, rec centers, summer camps, libraries, youth clubs and other safe spaces) the need for access to food for kids remains and is growing not just in Bowness but also across the city. Presently a team of 20 committed volunteers pick up and safely distribute 200 lunches per day at the Bowness lunch distribution site alone! Budgeting $2 per lunch and keeping this pace, this initiative will require approximately $22,000 to carry community kids and families through the summer.   

We hope to raise $25,000 based on the above breakdown spread over the coming 11 weeks, rounded up in order to cover the anticipated rise in demand as well as miscellaneous costs including some packaging and PPE. All funds collected here will go directly to food for kids and families and individuals in need. To this point the $2 dollar cost of each lunch has been able to be offset at times, by way of food donations from the larger YYC food industry; though the donations are extremely generous, they are also sporadic, based on what happens to be available.    

We thank you from the bottom of our hearts for taking the time to learn about this work and for your contribution to helping it continue! 

We are two teachers from Bowness whose hearts, like so many of our colleagues, went out immediately to our students in the wake of school closures. Our involvement in this initiative exists outside of our daily work as teachers. What we have learned in this capacity, about our students and families and the larger community we serve, continues to inform the context in which we work. Through conversation and collaboration we have come to better know existing community stakeholders in Bowness, who have also found themselves rapidly adapting to the implications of COVID 19, including an increase in demand for their services and a widening landscape of complexities in front of them. We are grateful that this Bowness Lunch Distribution is serving a need in the community as part of the larger Bowness Food Network, of which includes the Bowness Community Association, Redefin’d, BowWest, Carya and local churches, individuals and organizations!


  • Anonymous
    • $5 
    • 3 yrs
  • Marg Seeger
    • $100 
    • 3 yrs
  • Heather Anderson
    • $100 
    • 4 yrs
  • Ian Stanley
    • $385 
    • 4 yrs
  • Anonymous
    • $50 
    • 4 yrs

Fundraising team: Calgary's Kitchen! (2)

Megan Dobchuk-Land
Calgary, AB
Calgarys Kitchen
Tanya Bonham
Team member

Your easy, powerful, and trusted home for help

  • Easy

    Donate quickly and easily

  • Powerful

    Send help right to the people and causes you care about

  • Trusted

    Your donation is protected by the GoFundMe Giving Guarantee