Abbotsford Starfish Recap 2020
Starfish has been very busy this year! From providing 500 emergency essential pantry boxes to families in May and June, to doubling the number of participants in our Summer Starfish program. With kids back to school, we’re happy to be launching our regular weekly backpack deliveries. Starfish has never stopped helping more families – now, more than ever before.
How Did Summer Starfish Go?
Driver John and Starfish Coordinator Meghan delivering Summer Packs on the 3-ton truck, August 11, 2020
This year we launched our 3rd annual Summer Starfish Program! During the summer program, families pick up a bulked-up version of their typical school year Starfish Pack every three weeks from one of the 8 pickup locations.
Similar to the increased enrollment we saw at the end of the school year during the school closures, we had summer enrollment double from the last summer as well! In 2018 the summer program delivered 33 packs, in 2019 we delivered over 70 packs, and this year we delivered over 150 packs!
These increases have had a big impact on the program. Not only have we had to enlist the help of our 3-ton truck, but we’ve really relied on the support of our volunteers to sort and pack hampers and financial support of our community to keep the program going strong when times are tough. With your help, we were able to add fresh and healthier food items to the packs, including milk, apples, carrots, and potatoes.
Mom Shares her Children’s Joy After Receiving Food
“Most of our extra money is spent on our family’s multiple medical issues. So the kids rarely get treats. Our food budget is extremely strict and without the starfish backpack program I know there would be times the kids would not eat lunches etc. Seeing them smile as they open up the backpacks each week to food they know is theirs always puts a smile on my face. It’s like Christmas morning to them every week shouting to one another excitedly what they got. Then making trades to one another based on who likes what. We can’t thank you enough. You have no idea the impact the starfish program has had on our family alone….I can only imagine how much of an impact it has had on the community. Thank you so much!
What to Expect This Fall
We are so happy to be able to return to the regular weekly deliveries to elementary and middle schools, and monthly deliveries to high school students. To make sure we have as little handling of bags as possible we will be delivering the packs in plastic bags for the foreseeable future. Keeping kids healthy and fed is our top priority.
As you’ve probably noticed in the grocery store, prices are rising. Unfortunately, the 4% food cost increase has affected Starfish Pack as well. To be able to continue distributing the variety of staple pantry items as well as fresh fruit, the cost of the packs has increased to $600 per student, per school year.
“The Starfish backpack program has helped my family through the tough times and always ensured our children have a variety of healthy food choices to enjoy, at times when we otherwise may have not be able to provide them with this ourselves. We appreciate this program so much and thank the program coordinators, volunteers, donors and everyone involved in making it happen so much for your time, caring and generosity! You guys are the best people! Thank you!” – Starfish Pack Parent, September 2020
Remembering the Spring
When our volunteers delivered the weekly Starfish Packs to schools throughout Abbotsford on the last week before spring break, we had no idea that that would be our last “normal” Starfish delivery of the 2019-2020 school year.
When COVID-19 hit, we knew that the families still needed our help, but with schools being closed, we needed to reimagine what our program would look like. While we were brainstorming the best way to move forward, we provided the families with gift cards for the month of April to help cover the cost of groceries.
For the months of May and June we received news from the school district that 500 students needed our help. This was a 64% increase of the usual number of students we were helping before the pandemic. With the help of many volunteers and the generous donations from our community, we were able to make sure each of those 500 students received a box of essential pantry items like cereal, peanut butter, pancake mix, pasta and sauce, canned proteins, etc.