everyone deserves home

Boosting nutrition – and well-being – with grocery gift cards

February 14, 2024

“You don’t know how much it means to be able to go out and choose your own food.”

That’s Ricky, a 64-year-old tenant in one of our supportive housing buildings, talking about the grocery gift card program that you help support.

Ricky worked as a fisherman until substance use took over his ability to care for himself. “Before I knew it, I’d lost my home and my car,” he remembers. When Ricky was housed nine years ago, he looked forward to having his own fridge and being able to cook.

He says, “These days, my money doesn’t go very far. The gift cards help me get through the week because I can pick up eggs or milk. They also give me the motivation to get to the store on days when I might just isolate inside.”

Since the program was launched in 2019, supporters like you have donated toward giving grocery gift cards to thousands of vulnerable people accessing emergency shelter, health care, and employment programs. The cards are also distributed to residents of Cool Aid housing without food services.

Amanda Nurse, frontline supervisor at two of our supportive buildings, has seen the tremendous impact gift cards make on tenants’ nutrition. She says, “Food banks provide staples like rice and pasta, which is great, but usually no dairy or meat. If someone receives a gift card, they can supplement their meals with vital protein, vegetables, and fruit.” The gift cards also provide learning opportunities.

“Our tenants have varying levels of life skills,” she explains. “I’ll often go shopping with them, help choose nutritious choices, and share easy recipes. It makes everyone feel great to learn something new that they can do for themselves. We also talk about foods that could affect certain health issues, like diabetes.”

Amanda points out that going to a food bank carries a stigma for many residents. “But with the gift card, they’re like anyone else at the grocery store. Besides a better diet, the gift cards give dignity, choice, and a boost to our clients’ mental health.”

Thank you for helping to place grocery gift cards into the hands of people who need them most. As Ricky says, “I’m very grateful. They really help me get by.”