A Starfish pack may include items like fresh produce, pasta, canned meat, cereal and granola bars. (Jessica Peters/ The Progress)

Chilliwack Starfish program gets $40,000 boost from law firm

Program feeds vulnerable students’ families over the weekends

It’s estimated that more than 600 children come to Chilliwack schools hungry on Monday morning.

But as the Starfish Pack program continues to grow, those bellies are getting more of the nutrition they need. The program is currently running in six Chilliwack schools, and provides 110 students with a backpack of food for every weekend of the school year.

The food includes items like pasta, fresh fruit, cereals and soups. Students are given their backpacks by school staff on Friday after school, and bring it back during the week to be refilled.

Jane Ullyot, founder and coordinator of the Starfish Pack program in Chilliwack, is hoping they can help out even more local children. Every year, the program is looking to extend its help as its vision is to see no child in the Chilliwack elementary school system go hungry over the weekend. This year, they’ve been given a huge step toward that goal with a donation from Baker Newby LLP.

Luke Zacharias, partner at the law firm, recently presented Starfish Pack Chilliwack with a cheque for $40,000 at McCammon Traditional Elementary School, where the program had its start. The law firm will continue to match dollar for dollar all local donations to Starfish Pack up to a maximum of $80,000 before the end of 2017.

“Baker Newby is celebrating its 80th anniversary in 2017,” Zacharias said. “As a part of this celebration, the partners at Baker Newby are making a donation to the Starfish Program in Chilliwack in the amount of $40,000. We are grateful for our 80 years servicing the community of Chilliwack and this donation is a reflection of that gratitude.”

Ullyot is hoping the donation will encourage even more people to get behind the program. It costs about $525 for one family for the entire school year, and the food is purchased by the program volunteers through Save-On-Foods.

“It has been so heartwarming to see how both individuals and businesses in Chilliwack have really come together to address this need in our community,” she says. “When children receive regular meals, we notice it at school. Attendance improves, students are better able to concentrate and they are more positive. Parents are very appreciative of having the food on the weekend – we often get little notes of thanks left in the backpacks when they are returned to the school each week and I have seen tears in the eyes of parents, children and teachers on more than one occasion.”

To donate today visit http://starfishpack.com/Chilliwack/

To learn more about how to donate or how to get involved in the Starfish Pack program, contact Julie Nickel, Chilliwack Community Services at 604-792-4267 or nickelj@comserv.bc.ca.

 

The Chilliwack School District, Baker Newby LLP, Community Services and the Starfish Pack program are hoping a large matching grant from Baker Newby will encourage others to donate to the much-needed program. (Jessica Peters/ The Progress)

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