The Starfish Pack program has begun in Abbotsford for another school year and now has more than 75 local businesses, faith groups, service groups and individuals as partners.
Starfish Packs provide two breakfasts, two lunches, two dinners and snacks for local children in need to take home from school every weekend. The program currently feeds 263 kids in Abbotsford.
With no paid staff and no government funding, the program relies entirely on local community support for both funding and volunteers.
“We don’t add a single new student to the program until we have 100 per cent of the funding for the entire school year in our hands and a team of volunteers committed to support them,” said Bruce Beck, community service director with the Abbotsford Rotary Club, which created the program in partnership with the Abbotsford Food Bank.
At a cost of $525 per child for the school year, the program spends only $12 to $15 per week to provide six meals in each weekly backpack.
The local Save-On-Foods location on Whatcom Road provides Starfish Packs with the weekly groceries at cost.
Hill City Church is one of almost a dozen local community volunteer groups that provide both financial support and volunteers to do the weekly shopping, packing and delivery of the backpacks.
“It’s hard to believe we have kids going to school hungry here in Abbotsford. Starfish Packs is one of the easiest things we’ve ever done. We’ve met some beautiful people, built some amazing bridges into the community. I think we’re benefiting even more from being part of Starfish Packs than the kids we’re supporting,” said senior pastor Mitch Borrows.
Maria Martin, owner of Fraser Valley Auto Pro, is one Abbotsford business owner who has stepped forward to provide funding for the local program.
“There are so many kids that are hungry and it’s not right in our affluent community that we have hungry kids. If we all do something small, like helping with Starfish Packs, we can feed our kids,” he said.
Since the program began at a single school in Abbbotsford in 2013, it has grown to more than a dozen B.C. communities, including Surrey, Aldergrove, Chilliwack, Mission and Langley.
For more information, visit starfishpack.com. To make a donation to the Abbotsford program visit abbotsfordfoodbank.com.