Sweet Success for I Can for Kids!

by University District

Did you stop by Village Ice Cream’s pop-ups outside the Discovery Centre on Thursday afternoons to get your complimentary ice cream?

Across 15 Thursdays from June 3rd through September 9th, the Village Ice Cream pop-up gave away 6734 complimentary Little Villagers, that’s a lot of ice cream!Between 400 and 500 ice cream servings were eaten every single week, with an average of 449 per week!


As well as giving the community an early taste of Village Ice Cream (opening in January 2022 in Central Block on Retail Main Street), the weekly pop-up supported one of our favourite local charities that we are proud to continue to be involved with, I Can for Kids.

I Can for Kids helps feed children and youth impacted by hunger in Calgary. A big thank you to those who came out, together we collected over $3000 for I Can Kids to help families in the local community. Way to go!


How Your Donations Make a Difference


Sadly, childhood hunger is real and pervasive in our city. I Can for Kids knows how to tackle it but needs your help to provide food support to kids and their families.

I Can for Kids started out trying to fill a gap in the food system: summer hunger. The pandemic pushed them to see the wider picture, that there was a need throughout the year and how they could shift to help the community even more.

Since the onset of COVID-19, I Can for Kids has supported over 30,000 hungry kids in 136 communities in Calgary. Cash donations like those you make at the Village Ice Cream Pop-up are used to buy grocery gift cards and healthy food. When you help I Can for Kids, they help families feed themselves, giving them dignity and choice to buy fresh and nutritious food.


Why Grocery Cards Work


The once traditional method of donating food hampers often proved to be challenging for recipients. The process can be full of judgement, often unintentionally from those donating items, but who have little real-world experience of the needs of families experiencing food poverty.

The alternative of distributing grocery gift cards to families says to them that they are trusted to make good choices. In recent surveys conducted by I Can for Kids, 95% of recipients say they would prefer to receive a grocery gift card rather than food donations. Distributing grocery gift cards presents a barrier free way of empowering families.

Grocery gift cards give families access to stores closer to home, without perceived stigma or shame about being poor or a bad parent. The cards enable families to purchase food that meets their personal, cultural, religious, and health needs. That simple plastic card becomes a more empathetic response to a very traumatic experience.

Being able to “shop where everyone else shops” helps to restore pride, dignity and confidence and a sense of belonging. It is simply a more inclusive way to support hungry kids and families.

“When you’re just handed things, you’re kind of expected to just take what is given to you. Using a grocery gift card makes me feel like I’m contributing and doing something for my kids. I’m doing something they want, as opposed to…you have to eat that cause it’s all we got. You know, those nights are hard…but when you’re able to go out and [grocery shop and meal plan], it just makes you feel human, makes you feel like, yeah, I just did that myself. I didn’t have somebody do it for me.” – Katie, single-parent household, two children.


Donations Impact


Cash donations help I Can for Kids purchase grocery gift cards, removing the time and effort required to seek food donations and the need for volunteers to collect food items, package food hampers and distribute them. More so, during the pandemic with restrictions and requirements around social distancing, access to workplaces, food sharing and sanitizing, grocery gift cards prove a safe and efficient option for recipients as well as the I Can for Kids team and volunteers.

Not only do donations to I Can for Kids help immediate hunger needs in our city, but they also help further the conversation around poverty reduction. Agency partners can play a bigger part and have greater impact as they can easily distribute more cards to additional families, increasing I Can for Kids reach.

“Since the onset of the pandemic, we have distributed $1,161,500 in grocery gift cards, over $447,000 of it this year,” says Bobbi Turko, Co-founder & Executive Director at I Can for Kids.

“The immediate crisis is not over and recovery from the pandemic will be slow. Our frontline agency partners have indicated the need is greater than ever as it gets worse for families who continue to struggle with unemployment and savings being depleted. Initiatives like the Village Ice Cream pop-ups are so important to help create awareness of our work and to collect much needed donations.

“This summer we had a climbing enthusiast, Karen Knowlton, summit Mount Athabasca on July 23rd and her efforts raised over $50,000. We have a wonderful partnership with Save-On-Foods, their May campaign raised nearly $30,000 for us. And as kids settle back in their classrooms, SPUD is donating $1 for every back-to-school bundle purchased until the end of September. That said, Village Ice Cream is the most DELICIOUS fundraiser so far!

“A huge I Can for Kids thank you to University District, to Village Ice Cream, and to everyone who generously donated to this sweet summer success that helps us continue to make an impact in our community. Your generous support is helping feed hungry kids in Calgary this fall.

It’s our time to tackle childhood hunger. We’re on it, but we need your help to achieve our aim of alleviating food insecurity for more than 30,000 kids in our community. Our fundraising goal for 2021 is $1.4 million, so we have a long way to go.”

Please donate today at icanforkids.ca/donate Purchase a Back-to-School bundle from SPUD until the end of September and they’ll donate $1 to I Can for Kids.


Our Pop-Up’s Sweet Success


“The pop-up at the Discovery Centre gave Village Ice Cream and University District the opportunity to host thousands of Calgarians this summer. We were thrilled with the turnout, and excited that we could contribute to the energy that is palpable along University District’s retail main street,” says Village Ice Cream Founder, Billy Friley.

“We’re so happy we could help I Can for Kids gain donations. We can’t wait to be a permanent part of this welcoming and caring community when our new shop opens in January.”

Follow Village Ice Cream in the lead up to their UD opening on social media:



“Following on from the success of the Feed Kids Now campaign by Save-On-Foods, we are delighted by the success of the Village Ice Cream pop-ups and to have been able to connect this future University District tenant with I Can for Kids and their mission to end childhood hunger in Calgary,” says James Robertson, President and CEO of University of Calgary Properties Group.

“We see it as an honour to be able to lend ongoing support to this mighty little organization that does such meaningful work in our community through its outreach and spreading social awareness. We thank the University District community for getting behind an endeavour so close to our hearts and for your donations that make a real difference. We again look forward to supporting I Can for Kids at Northwestival again this year. Watch out in the coming months for all the fun details about the return of our favourite community festival.”

To keep up to date with Northwestival and other events and happenings, follow University District on social media.


Learn more about I Can for Kids at icanforkids.ca


U/D is proud to have worked with Village Ice Cream to do something sweet for vulnerable Calgary children and families this summer. Did you visit a pop-up here this summer? Then you helped too! Post your flash-back pics from then and tag us to be featured. Post on University District on Facebook, @udistrictyyc_ on Instagram or Twitter. And let’s stay connected here!

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