We recently spoke with vice-president and co-founder of Backpack Buddies Emily-anne King to find out more about their charity that provides weekend backpacks of food to kids in need.
Describe your charity/non-profit in a few sentences.
Backpack Buddies is a registered Canadian charity that works with teachers, administrators and social workers to identify children and families who could benefit most from receiving a bag of food for the weekend. Our trucks drive though Metro Vancouver and Vancouver Island delivering bags of food to recipient schools on Friday morning for distribution to students. We support 4000 children a week across the province, distributing a total of 36,000 meals/week.
What problem does it aim to solve?
We are target the hidden crisis of childhood hunger in BC, with a focus on weekend hunger. BC has one of the highest child poverty rates in Canada with 20% of children living below the poverty line. The ever-increasing cost of rent, household expenses and childcare, has created an affordability crisis for families in our community. Basic needs like food, shelter and warmth are now in direct competition with one another. Families living in poverty are often forced to make brutal trade-offs like foregoing dinners for a week to pay rent.
When did you start/join it?
I started Backpack Buddies is 2012 with my mother Joanne.
What made you want to get involved?
We started the program when we realized that there was a huge gap in the food security system for children. Many kids rely on school meal programs Monday to Friday but go home to little or nothing on the weekends. We decided that we wanted to try and do something to help, and thus was born Backpack Buddies!
What was the situation like when you started?
When we started the program in 2012, it was estimated that 1 in 5 children living in our province experienced food insecurity. It’s a staggering and really startling figure to come to terms with.
How has it changed since?
The situation has grown exponentially worse since we began our program. Due to COVID 19, it’s now estimated that as many as 1 in 3 children nationally suffer from food insecurity. Food insecurity is in every single one of our communities across the province. And as people start to feel like life is “going back to normal” we need to remember that is simply not the case for many children and families. We have seen a massive increase in demand for our program and we don’t see it slowing down.
What more needs to be done?
This is a big question, with so many different answers. Ultimately for us, we know we need to continue to grow our organization to reach as many children as possible.
How can our readers help?
Spreading awareness on child hunger as well as our organization is always helpful! Beyond that, we encourage people to get involved. Whether it’s volunteering, donating, fundraising, reposting, in whatever capacity you are able. It truly takes a village to make lasting change. One of the most important groups in our village are the members of our Friday Club. These are the folks that have committed to donating on a monthly basis, an amount of their choice, and they make our program possible.
Do you have any events coming up?
Unfortunately, no events until June 2022 when we are launching our first ever golf tournament!
Where can we follow you?
Follow along with us on our journey to ending weekend hunger!
PAY IT FORWARD: What is an awesome local charity that you love?
We LOVE Mom 2 Mom, linked here!