The idea of a child in Mission coming to school hungry, or going home hungry is hard to think about.
Unfortunately, it is a reality for many students.
Last year, the Rotary Club of Mission AM introduced the Starfish Pack program to Mission in an effort to help those kids who are hungry.
While in school, breakfast and lunch programs provide a basic level of food security during the school week, but the weekends can be a long hungry time.
Starfish Packs are backpacks filled with food to provide two breakfasts, two lunches, two dinners and two snacks for local children to take home from school every weekend.
Janet Chalmers of the Rotary Club of Mission AM said in its first year, the local program helped 33 kids. From January to June more than 536 backpacks were handed out.
Currently, the local program is focusing on four elementary schools – Cherry Hill, Christine Morrison, Windebank and Albert McMahon.
“A backpack, for a $525 donation, will feed a child for the school year,” Chalmers said.
With a new school year approaching, the Rotary Club is starting to raise funds and awareness to finance the backpacks for another year.
While the program helped 33 students last year, Chalmers said the list of kids who need help is much longer.
“They could probably have 33 kids per school.”
Once Rotary acquires enough money ($525) for a year’s worth of backpacks for one child, they contact the school and tell them to add another student to the list.
“The schools identify who the children are that need assistance.”
Rotary has partnered with Mission Community Services and Save-On-Foods to make the program a success.
Save-On-Foods does the shopping for the organizers.
“I phone them on Wednesday and tell them I need 33 backpacks and the volunteers go there on Thursday and there’s enough food for 33 backpacks already picked and organized,” Chalmers said.
A team of volunteers then load the backpacks with food and deliver them to the schools. The backpacks are picked up on Monday, and the cycle starts over.
Organizers are hoping to raise even more money this year in order to help more than 33 kids.
Donations can be made at Mission Community Services. Anything over $25 will be issued a tax receipt.
From now until Aug. 17, Save-On-Foods will be holding a rounding-up campaign for the local Starfish Pack program. Customers will be given the option to round up their grocery bill to the nearest dollar with the proceeds going toward the charity campaign.
The Starfish Pack program began in Abbotsford in 2013 and has now spread to communities around the province. For more information, visit starfishpack.com.
To make an online donation to the Starfish Backpack program at Mission Community Services, email to email@example.com or call 604-826-3634.