Vancouver Charity Helps Close B.C. Child Hunger Gap

The first full week of the new school year is over and the children are excited to enjoy their days off.

But for the thousands of children across the province who face food insecurity and depend on school lunch programs, weekends can mean days of hunger.

Vancouver-based charity Backpack Friends helps fill long gaps where food availability is uncertain. But due to various challenges, they are seeking help from the community to continue feeding children in need.

“Hidden hunger lives in your neighborhood this back-to-school season,” Emily-Anne King, co-executive director and co-founder of Backpack Buddies, told Daily Hive. “Right now, food inflation is at its highest level in 40 years, at almost 10% year-on-year. It hits children and families harder because they are already exhausted. We recently spoke to parents who sometimes skip meals to make sure their children have food.

“The phone is constantly ringing at Backpack Buddies from new schools, communities and families looking for help feeding hungry children this fall.”

Backpack Buddies / Submissive

According to King, at least one in five children in British Columbia faces food insecurity. During the pandemic, the number rose to one in three.

Backpack Buddies helps approximately 4,500 children each week by discreetly providing them with food bags every Friday. The bags contain enough meals and snacks for the weekend and beyond so that beneficiaries return to school fed and ready to learn.

“Food insecurity has a profound impact on children’s lives,” King explained. “Children who come to class hungry can lose up to two hours of productivity per school day and make slower progress in math, reading and comprehension. They also have poorer physical and mental health than their peers Persistent hunger can set a child back for life.

Backpack Friends

Joanne Griffiths (left), co-founder of Backpack Buddies, and Emily-Anne King (backpackbuddiesbc/Instagram)

Backpack Buddies began in 2012 when King and his mother Joanne Griffiths teamed up to provide 20 backpacks full of food to children in East Vancouver. Over the next decade, they expanded to work with over 230 distribution partners – including over 200 schools – across the province.

“We realize that children who receive support never feel isolated and that no one feels there is anything wrong or wrong with their family’s situation,” Backpack Buddies said. on their website.

Backpack Friends

Backpack Buddies / Submissive

The basic organization is now seek help to continue its important work in ensuring that children no longer face weekend hunger.

“Rising prices are also putting pressure on Backpack Buddies. Inflation means more kids are hungry and it’s even harder to help,” King explained. “Our monthly food bill has gone up by over $7,000 a month for the past eight months or so.

“Oatmeal, for example, recently jumped 14% and rice cups recently rose almost 10%. We also had increases on staples like Kraft cups and Jello last month. , and we have been warned by suppliers that further increases this fall are inevitable.

Backpack Buddies has also seen a huge increase in the cost of delivering food to children in BC.

Backpack Friends

Backpack Buddies / Submissive

“Fuel prices have come down a bit, but they are still very expensive and we need fuel to transport food across the province,” King added. “Our prices have skyrocketed from $850 per month in 2020 to around $1,800 per month in September. In other words, the cost of fuel to deliver a single bag of food to a hungry child has more than doubled in two years.

There are many ways to support the association in its missionincluding joining The Friday Club monthly giving program, shopping at its Nourish & Flourish online marketplace, and hosting a virtual food drive.

“We have always been proud of our community. From schools to donors, staff to volunteers, we are a grassroots organization and recognize the power of our collective action,” Backpack Buddies said on its website.

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