Abbotsford Starfish Part of Provincial Milestone
The Abbotsford Starfish Pack program recently celebrated its local contributions to the provincial program feeding over 1,200 students in need every weekend during the school year.
The program began seven years ago with a single school in Abbotsford feeding six students. It has now grown to 18 BC communities serving 116 schools across the province. The program has also begun in Washington State with Starfish Packs USA launching the program in Whatcom County. Abbotsford Starfish Pack currently delivers 302 backpacks to schools, including middle and high school. These backpacks feed approximately 600 children in Abbotsford each week.
Starfish Packs provides two breakfasts, two lunches, two dinners and snacks every Friday for local students who depend on in school breakfast or lunch programs during the week. Each program is run by partnerships between local service clubs, non-profits, businesses, faith groups and individuals. At a cost of $525/child for the school year, all of locally donated dollars stay in the community and 100% of those funds are spent on purchasing food for local children.
“It’s been a constant source of inspiration to see how our community has come together to make a difference in the lives of kids that are hurting”, said Bruce Beck, chair of the Abbotsford Rotary’s Starfish Pack committee, one of the partner groups in the local Starfish Pack program. “There’s not a single justifiable reason why a child living in Canada, in BC, in our community, should go hungry” Beck said.
Local organizers are celebrating the 1,200 student provincial milestone, but say the work is far from done.
“Delivering 302 backpacks to students in 37 schools in our city is an accomplishment that should be celebrated, but we want to do more” says Meghan Franklin, the Starfish Pack coordinator with the Abbotsford Food Bank. “This year we have expanded to 6 high schools for the very first time which is very exciting, but we hope to keep growing and expanding until every hungry child in our city is fed, whether they are in Kindergarten or in Grade 12.”
Provincially, approximately one in five children live in poverty and routinely go more than a full day without getting adequate calories for healthy living and growth. Experts point to a lack of food security for school age children as a significant factor in both academic success and future lifestyle. Children wondering about when they’ll eat next don’t learn as well as those who are fed. “We want to provide nutritious food to all children who need it, to make sure they are able to thrive in school, and in life,” says Franklin. “Starfish Pack is a practical way to tackle poverty that is affecting our next generation. For only $525 we can feed a child for a full school year and give them a proper start to the rest of their life. With the help of our community we are able to make a difference in the lives of children.”
For more information contact:
Meghan Franklin, Starfish Pack Coordinator
(604) 859-5749 ext. 32