Local Starfish Packs part of Provincial Milestone


The Maple Ridge/Pitt Meadows Starfish Pack program recently celebrated its local contributions to the provincial program feeding over 1,200 students in need every weekend during the school year.

The program began seven years ago with a single school in Abbotsford feeding six students. It has now grown to 18 BC communities serving 116 schools across the province. The program has also begun in Washington State with Starfish Packs USA launching the program in Whatcom County. MR/PM Starfish Pack currently delivers 102 backpacks to local elementary schools.

Starfish Packs provides two breakfasts, two lunches, two dinners and snacks every Friday for local students who depend on in school breakfast or lunch programs during the week.  Each program is run by partnerships between local service clubs, non-profits, businesses, faith groups and individuals.   At a cost of $575/child for the school year, all of locally donated dollars stay in the community and 100% of those funds are spent on purchasing food for local children.

“It’s been amazing to see how our community has come together to make a difference in the lives of kids that are hurting”, said Ineke Boekhorst, chair of the MR/PM Rotary’s Starfish Pack committee, one of the partner groups in the local Starfish Pack program. “There’s absolutely no reason why a child living in Canada, in BC, in our community, should go hungry” Boekhorst said.

Local organizers are celebrating the 1,200 student provincial milestone, but say the work is far from done.

“Delivering 117 backpacks to students in 12 elementary schools in our city is an accomplishment that should be celebrated, but we want to do more” says Paul Olson, Starfish Pack coordinator with the Burnett Fellowship Church. “This year we have already expanded to 3 additional schools which is very exciting, but we hope to keep growing and expanding until every hungry child in our city is fed”

Provincially, approximately one in five children live in poverty and routinely go more than a full day without getting adequate calories for healthy living and growth.  Experts point to a lack of food security for school age children as a significant factor in both academic success and future lifestyle. Children wondering about when they’ll eat next don’t learn as well as those who are fed. “We want to provide nutritious food to all children who need it, to make sure they are able to thrive in school, and in life,” says Boekhorst. “Starfish Backpacks are a practical way to tackle poverty that is affecting our next generation. For only $575 we can feed a child for a full school year and give them a proper start to the rest of their life. With the help of our community we are able to make a difference in the lives of children.”

To find out more about the MR/PM Starfish Pack program, go to: https://starfishpack.com/meadowridge/