Together

Abbotsford Proudly Supports

“With the rising cost of groceries, the Starfish Program has helped a lot with taking the pressure off. Not having to choose between paying bills and putting food on the table is something that the program has made possible for me.”  – Abbotsford Parent, 2023

 

Abbotsford-headertxt

 Thank you for giving me hope

In 2013, the former Manager of the Abbotsford Food Bank, Dave Murray, was faced with a very real problem. His daughter, who is a teacher at an Abbotsford elementary school, had children in her class that were coming to school Monday morning reporting they had not eaten over the weekend. Without food, the children tended to experience an inability to focus, behavioural outbursts and poor academic outcomes. Dave was determined to answer his daughter with help.

The food bank launched a pilot project, starting with packing and delivering six backpacks to students at one elementary school in Abbotsford. With the help and enthusiasm of the Rotary Club of Abbotsford, the program was able to rapidly expand. Two years after launching, we were able to be feeding over 200 elementary school students.

Teachers have reported improvements in children’s reading skills, math skills, ability to focus and to do partner work.

Now over 10 years later, with the help of many local donors and volunteers, we are now delivering over 700 packs to 42 elementary, middle, and high schools throughout Abbotsford.

The Starfish Pack that started here in Abbotsford, has also expanded to over 24 cities throughout British Columbia and Whatcom County and is now feeding over 3800 children and their families.

We have also completed four years of “Summer Starfish” to ensure that children and their families have access to support all year long, and look forward to starting our fifth summer soon.

This wouldn’t be possible without the hundreds of volunteers that give their time to shop, assemble and deliver the backpacks every week. Each week volunteers pack two breakfasts, two lunches, two dinners and healthy snacks into each backpack with food for the weekend and deliver the backpacks to the participating schools.

Want to learn more about how the program works? Please check out our FAQ section here.

 Our Story:

 Irene’s story of how Starfish has impacted her son:

“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!”

-Starfish Parent

 

Will you partner with us? Click DONATE to make a donation online.

$693 feeds one child in Abbotsford each weekend for the school year

Cheques, Cash, and Debit/Credit donations can be made in person at

Archway Food Bank, 604-859-5749

33914 Essedene Avenue, Abbotsford, BC, V2S 4H8

For any questions about the program or donations, please contact Meghan (Starfish Pack Coordinator) by calling 778-344-3093 or emailing Starfish@archway.ca.

 

Starfish Parent

“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!!"

Youth Care Worker

"One family used the back pack program for a year and it helped the mother after suddenly getting separated and having 4 children and not working she managed to get back on her feet with the help of the back pack program, it lessened her burden while she looked for a job and had money to get school supplies and clothing for her children. Families are very appreciative of the program and look forward to the backpack."

Elementary School Teacher

“I asked a student of mine about the Starfish Pack program and this is what he told me. ‘The backpack really helps us, because we don't have a lot of food at home, or a lot of money to get food. It helps to make things better for us at home.’ This program reaches out to those in need and this cause has a real soft spot in my heart. It’s painful to see kids go hungry and to know they are going home to very little. You have no idea the difference Starfish Packs makes during the day for our students. ”

Starfish Parent

"My girls are so happy when they get home on Friday to open up their backpack to see what they get for the weekend. If it wasn't for the backpack program, I don't know where we would be."

Principal

/ Abbotsford Elementary School

Three of our students suddenly “took off” last year as readers. All three were in Grade 3, two of the three were in the Starfish backpack program and all three received other interventions. What the three had in common was a lack of social and emotional capital to learn. They had low self-esteem, their home situations were uncertain at best and chaotic and even toxic at times, at the worst. Food security was one of the pieces for two of these kids that made a difference. They went from total non-readers in November last year to being almost caught up with their grade 3 peers in June. Remarkable. There were many reasons for their learning to read; we don’t know how much of an impact having food on a weekend made, both from a nutrition point of view and from an anxiety aspect. These boys went home on Fridays as providers, and that made a difference in how they perceived themselves. Thank you.

Principal

/ Abbotsford Elementary School

One of our school’s recipient’s of Rotary’s Starfish Pack Program is a grade 2 girl who lives with her widowed mother. The young girl’s mother has gone without many of the basics that most of us take for granted. Previously she would do without for herself to be sure that her daughter had snacks and foods every day. She gives her daughter the very best she can and we are glad to be able to offer her an economic and emotional ‘boost’ through Rotary’s Starfish Pack Program this year.

Principal

/ Abbotsford Elementary School

Until you have lived through the experience of the changes, you can’t truly understand the magnitude of the positive impact that children having food on a regular basis has on their lives. Imagine how this can positively impact their future and ability to live up to their true potential.

Starfish Parent

"Being a low-income house, we greatly appreciate the bags you send home. It may be meant for one student only, but it makes a big difference for the 4 of us. Thank you for this wonderful program."

Abbotsford Starfish Pack

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