Approximately 600 children in Chilliwack go to school hungry on Monday mornings. Currently, most students in need are provided with breakfast, recess snacks and lunch each day at school. Unfortunately, the lack of access to food does not end when the weekend arrives. The Starfish Backpack Program was created in response to that need. The program is simple: backpacks are sent home each Friday, full of food for children and their families for the weekend during the school year.
Chilliwack Community Services, in collaboration with community volunteers and School District No. 33, instituted the program in late September 2015 in two Chilliwack Elementary Schools. Due to community response for donations, the program has expanded to three schools, with 70 children now receiving food backpacks over the weekend through the school year. The goal is that eventually all 600 children will receive a backpack and that “No child in Chilliwack goes hungry over the weekend.”
Every Thursday during the school year, volunteers will fill the backpacks at the school with non-perishable food that requires little or no preparation. There will be enough food in the backpack to feed a child, and their families, for the weekend. The packs will then be distributed to the three schools and each child participating in the program will take their backpacks home for the weekend and return to school on Monday with the empty backpacks ready to be refilled.
The cost of filling each backpack is $525 per school year with 100 per cent of the donations received going directly to the purchase of the food for the backpack. Save-On-Foods is the proud food provider and various clubs and individuals in the community have donated the funds to fill these backpacks.
Chilliwack Community Services continues to grow in program size, while maintaining its vision of being a leading partner in helping our community be the best it can be. CCS is accepting donations online at http://www.comserv.bc.ca/starfish-backpack-program/ or in person at 45938 Wellington Ave.