Abbotsford Summer Starfish – Year 3
Reimagining Summer Starfish Packs presented many challenges as we continue to operate within the guidelines of Stage 3 Reopening. From sourcing volunteers to finding adequate storage and sorting space, many unknowns were met by a positive response from a generous community. We are excited to say that despite the challenges, we have officially launched our third year of our Summer Starfish program! This ensures families can receive help all year long, not just during the school year.
What is Summer Starfish?
During the school year, Starfish Packs are delivered directly to the students at their schools to bring home for the weekend. During the summer, the families pick up a bulked-up version of their typical school year Starfish Pack every three weeks from one of the 8 pickup locations. This summer, we will be doing a total of 4 deliveries.
During most of the school year, Starfish Pack worked with the same groups of dedicated volunteers who typically packed and delivered over 300 weekend packs to over 30 schools in the city of Abbotsford every week. During the summer we open the volunteer opportunity to local businesses and groups.
We are so thankful for Central Heights Church and Gateway Church for allowing us to use their facilities to space out and fill the packs safely during this season. We are also extremely thankful for the volunteer teams from Gateway Church, Vitalus Nutrition, and Longboard Products who are helping this summer.
What has changed this year?
Similar to the increased enrollment in the school year Starfish Pack program during COVID-19, we’re seeing Summer Starfish pack doubling the number of packs! Our first year we delivered 33 packs to 4 locations throughout the summer. Last year we delivered over 70 packs to 7 locations, and this year we are delivering over 140 packs to 8 locations!
With such an increase, we have had to switch our delivery vehicle from our small refrigerated van to making two trips in our 3-ton refrigerated truck to fit the many pallets of packs being given out! We are thankful to have the vehicles and tools necessary to make sure all the children and families are served.
This year we have also focused on adding fresh and healthier food items to the packs, including milk, apples, carrots, and potatoes. We often receive requests for milk during the school year, but since the packs are not able to be refrigerated before or after delivery, this has not been a feasible option. That’s why we are so excited to be able to include milk in the bags during the summer where we can ensure that the milk will stay cool up until the families receive it.
What goes in a Summer Pack?
Some of the items included in summer packs include cereal, oatmeal, peanut butter, tuna, pasta noodles and sauce, soup, chilli, beans, corn, crackers, granola bars, and as mentioned before, milk, carrots, apples, and potatoes.
This year, we have been able to also include additional food from Food Banks Canada’s After the Bell Program. This program provides healthy food packs that we have been able to add to our Summer Starfish Packs. They have also provided us with a grant to be able to purchase the fresh carrots and apples included in the packs.
Want to help?
Do you want to ensure that a child in Abbotsford doesn’t go hungry during the summer? $58 buys one summer pack, and $232 provides a student with 4 packs throughout the summer!