Starfish Packs, which provides two breakfasts, two lunches, two dinners and snacks for local vulnerable children to take home every weekend, is 100% community funded and staffed. With no paid staff and no government funding, the program relies entirely on local community support for both funding and volunteers.
What started in a single school in Abbotsford in the spring of 2013 has grown to over a dozen BC communities. Starfish Packs will be delivered this school year in Abbotsford, Surrey, Chilliwack, Delta, Aldergrove, Langley, Mission, Coquitlam, Maple Ridge, Pitt Meadows, Port Coquitlam, Vernon and Williams Lake. All local donations remain in the communities where they are made.
In Surrey we are aware of the existence of breakfast and lunch program in many schools. Research indicates that 13,000 Surrey residents – 41% of whom are children – turn to food banks to meet the basic human need of food security. The social costs of food insecurity are high, with lost economic productivity, poorer educational outcomes and erosion of dignity for these Surrey residents. Surrey has “ 11 of the 20 poorest neighborhoods in BC. 40.5% of residents in Guildford and 42.7% of residents in Newton report annual household incomes under $40,000. Lone parent households are particularly challenged with regard to accessing affordable food, and one in four experiences disrupted food intake and eating patterns.
At a cost of $525 per child for the whole year, the program only spends $15 - $17 per week to provide six meals in each weekly backpack. Working with the local Walmart stores location, Starfish Packs is maximizing every single donated dollar and working towards its mandate to change the world, one child at a time.