An increased need for Starfish Packs for students in Abbotsford schools means that the Archway Community Services program can no longer meet the demand in its existing space.
Currently, 730 students in 41 elementary, middle, and high schools receive a weekly pack full of food to eat over the weekend when they don’t have access to school meals. Now halfway through the school year 12,494 packs have already been delivered and the Starfish Pack Program expects to distribute more than 25,700 packs by the end of the school year.
For some Cariboo students, a backpack filled with food and dropped off at school is how they eat on weekends.
Volunteers from the Rotary Club of Williams Lake gather weekly to fill backpacks — called Starfish Packs — with food and then deliver them to the five elementary schools in town (Cataline, Nesika, Marie Sharpe, Mountview and Chilcotin Road). The students in need take the backpacks home from school on Fridays and then bring them back to school empty on Mondays.
A church is helping feed young families in need by donating $10,000 from the sale of one of its buildings to a school program.
Cheam View United Church sold Rosedale United Church earlier this year and one member suggested they donate a portion of the money to the Starfish Pack program which provides food to kids in the Chilliwack School District and their families.
By the end of the work week, mornings are busy at the Kamloops Food Bank. An assembly line of volunteers sort, pack, and deliver hundreds of bags for the Starfish Backpack program.
“Obviously every year we kind of expect a bit of an increase in the numbers of backpacks that we distribute. This year though, it went up exponentially,” explains Food Bank Events and Communication Coordinator Kennedy Epp.
Concerned about keeping kids fed that access food programs during the school year, the Penticton Starfish Pack project is asking the community to donate to help families throughout the summer.
Tracy Van Raes, Starfish Pack chair and Rotarian, said their team put slips of paper into all the Starfish backpacks at the end of the school year with an email address to reach out if families needed summer support.
A local service club helping hungry students in Maple Ridge and Pitt Meadows is on the verge of shutting down.
The Starfish Pack Program, which has independently operated branches all across B.C., uses volunteers to pack bags full of healthy and tasty meals for school children who come from struggling families.