For years, breakfast and lunch programs have been offered by schools across the country as teachers and facilitators recognize that many of their students come to school hungry or with no lunch of their own. When a child is hungry, not only are they unable to focus and learn, but they become embarrassed amongst their peers.
Many children in British Columbia’s Lower Mainland inner-city schools, who live in low income (low wages, under-employed) families or live in poverty (families on income assistance or no income), rely heavily on free or reduced-price breakfast and lunch programs during the school week. However, many do not look forward to the weekend because it means they will face meager or no meals until they return to school on Monday morning. Due to this, children are deprived of nutrients and are at risk for serious health problems and learning complications.
Backpack Buddies aims to tackle this often invisible problem by putting much-needed food directly into the hands of children who require it. Backpack Buddies bridges the weekend hunger gap, as on Friday afternoons they deliver backpacks of food for children in need to take home for the weekend. Each backpack is filled with food for all meals for an entire weekend: two breakfasts, lunches, and dinners, plus snacks and fresh fruit. Each of these backpacks is made possible by children at Buddy Schools (donor schools) around Metro Vancouver who raise funds, purchase food, and pack each bag. Backpack Buddies provides an essential avenue for children to understand local food security issues and the potential for each person to make a difference. This “kids helping kids” program is unlike any other!
In 2018, the Tamara Foundation was able to provide a grant for $10,000.00.
The generous support we have received from the Tamara Foundation will enable us to continue in our efforts to reach even more vulnerable children by furthering our reach into communities like Burnaby and Surrey, ensuring that fewer and fewer of our local inner- city school children will have to go through an entire weekend with meager or no meals.
Our goal is to be delivering 5000 backpacks of food a month by the beginning of the next school year – the funding we have received through the Tamara Foundation will go a long way towards helping us achieve that goal!
Joanne Griffiths- Founder of Backpack Buddies
During the first half of the 2018/2019 school year, Backpack Buddies has seen tremendous growth! At the end of the 2017/2018 school year, Backpack Buddies was delivering just over 1600 backpacks per month to 17 inner-city schools. In September of 2018, Backpack Buddies was able to commit to giving just under 2400 backpacks per month.
As Backpack Buddies continued to increase their deliveries to more schools throughout the fall, they were able to provide 3000 backpacks per month to 31 schools in 7 communities by the end of 2018. That’s 18,000 meals per month!
Backpack Buddies is continuing to provide meals to more and more students in 2019. As of January this year, Backpack Buddies is partnering with 16 donor schools, delivering to 33 schools, providing 3000 backpacks per month, and serving seven communities including; North Vancouver, West Vancouver, Vancouver, Burnaby, Coquitlam, Surrey and Tsawwassen.
We cannot wait to see how Backpack Buddies will be able to continue their incredible work and we are proud to be able to help children receive the meals they need so that they can thrive.