Backpack Buddies, a charity tackling the “weekend hunger gap” for students, is gearing up to triple the number of kids on Vancouver Island that will receive emergency food this fall.
According to co-founder Emily-Anne King, at the beginning of March, the organization was serving 1,300 children per week and by the end of June, the number had jumped to 3,000 per week.
King and her mother started the charity in 2012 after seeing a need with the weekend hunger gap. King said that the students who rely on breakfast or lunch programs at school may go hungry over the weekend while at home. Backpack Buddies was born to address the “weekend hunger gap” by providing backpacks full of nine meals for students to take home on Friday.
“It’s all the meals they’d need for the weekend and more, so they don’t come to school Monday morning one step behind,” said King.
National organizations like Breakfast Club are predicting food insecurity will jump 80 per cent this year, meaning one in three Canadian kids could go to school hungry.
King calls the rise in demand “pretty alarming,” and has lost sleep worrying about children who may fall through the cracks when it comes to food insecurity.
“I think the troubles ahead don’t lie with our organization but with the kids and people we help,” she said. “We’ll keep increasing and doing everything we can, but there’s already so much uncertainty – I just want to give hungry kids one less thing to worry about.”
Currently, Backpack Buddies cannot accept food donations and is asking for financial support to help as many hungry children as possible.
To make a donation visit backpackbuddies.ca.