Shirley Michie never had kids of her own but she instantly inherited hundreds when she started volunteering for Boys and Girls Clubs of Calgary.
Shirley heard about the Food And Nutrition at School (FANS) program one day when she dropped her husband’s daughter off at school. The FANS program at West Dover Elementary needed some helping hands and Shirley put her name forward.
“I love it,” says Shirley. “It’s very rewarding in a lot of ways.”
Shirley is now the breakfast/lunch room supervisor and is responsible for making sure all kids who are hungry have something to fill their bellies.
Boys and Girls Clubs of Calgary (BGCC) still provides the school with breakfast foods. Shirley said she averages about 45 students a day who use the breakfast program.
“From the first day I started here, Boys and Girls Clubs of Calgary has been such a huge support,” said Shirley.
When asked why she has stayed with the FANS program all these years, tears start to form in Shirley’s eyes and her voice quivers.
“Food and education go together,” was all she could say.
She knows first-hand the importance of making sure children have a full stomach when they start their learning day. Often kids come to school with a headache, say their tummy hurts or are in a bad mood.
“When you feed them, that goes away,” says Shirley adding that every child in the school gets access to the food offered, no questions asked.
She isn’t the only one who knows the important link between nutrition and education. The FANS program operates in 170 schools throughout Calgary and offers healthy snacks to thousands of children. The operation of the program is supported by United Way of Calgary and Area, while 100 per cent of funds raised for the program go towards the food costs.
FANS received a major boost recently thanks to the Calgary Herald Christmas Fund which donated just over $126,000 to the program.
BGCC is extremely grateful for the support from the Calgary Herald Christmas Fund. Michelle Grover, FANS Coordinator, says the donation will help meet the growing demand for the program’s services. In 2011-12, the FANS program spent $281,200 on food, which was nearly a $100,000 increase from the year before.
“Part of that is the enhanced nutritional quality of our foods. Another part is the increase in food costs and the third factor in increased costs is the increase in the number of schools who ask for the FANS program,” says Michelle. In 2011-12, FANS distributed more than 450,000 servings to children in Calgary.
More volunteers needed!
Do you have a few hours each week to volunteer with FANS? We are looking for amazing volunteers who love kids and the satisfaction in knowing they are making a difference in lives of our future engineers, doctors, lawyers and amazing adults!
Scheduling is flexible to fit your life! Shifts are for one hour, before school, Monday to Friday from September through June. Volunteers are needed one day a week or up to 5 days a week in a school near you.
If this sparks your interest, please contact Maggie Schmiemann, BGCC Corporate Engagement Coordinator at firstname.lastname@example.org or 403-520-1548.