Tackling child hunger in British Columbia, one backpack at a timeJul 23, 2020
Founded in 2012 by mother and daughter, Joanne Griffiths and Emily-anne King, Backpack Buddies was created to address an issue that had not been adequately recognized: child hunger in British Columbia. Backpack Buddies’ weekend meal program delivers backpacks that contain six meals, fresh fruit, and snacks to students within BC who go home on the weekend and do not have sufficient access to food. It became clear to Backpack Buddies that the school environment was a safe space for children who would otherwise go hungry at home. Weekends, winter, spring, and summer break are major sources of anxiety for children in the program. These kids are unsure whether they will have proper meals during those times away from school - including when in-person classes were shut down due to COVID-19.
Backpack Buddies believes that child hunger is everyone's problem and is too important to go unseen in the shadow of COVID-19, which is why they found new avenues to reach the kids that they support in a safe, socially distant capacity. With an $80,000 grant from the TELUS Friendly Future Foundation, they redesigned their delivery models and increased the number of children that they support through their incredible program. They are also looking to expand into a warehouse that will be able to accommodate their 400 volunteers, adding more food into the backpack deliveries, and doubling their distribution to nearly 3000 kids per week.
“The TELUS Friendly Future Foundation has committed to providing much-needed support to help Backpack Buddies get through this health care crisis and well beyond,” says Backpack Buddies cofounder Emily-anne King. “The funding of $80,000 will have an immediate impact on BC families who are right now wondering where their next meal will come from, with impacts stretching into the foreseeable future as we adjust to life with COVID-19.”
172,000 children still go hungry in British Columbia, which is why Backpack Buddies is committed to expanding their program into more communities within the province. As the need for their weekend meal delivery program grew overnight once COVID-19 took full effect in Canada, the grant has been instrumental in Backpack Buddies’ ability to pivot to their new delivery model to accommodate more children, pave new avenues for support, and expand their impact in BC’s poverty zones.