You’d probably never guess it…but child hunger and food insecurity are severe realities for kids in every corner of British Columbia. Explore the hidden reality, and what we can do about it, in this Q&A with Backpack Buddies Executive Director Emily-anne King.
What is the problem of child hunger in British Columbia?
Many people think about hunger as a problem that affects mostly other parts of the world. But did you know B.C. has one of the highest child poverty rates in Canada? Here, 1 in 5 families are at risk of food insecurity. Shockingly, close to 20% of children are living below the poverty line. The ever-increasing cost of rent, household expenses, and childcare has created an affordability crisis – and it has hit children the hardest. Children in food-insecure households often do not eat properly, or at all, on weekends. For parents depending on school meal programs to help feed their children, every weekend brings renewed stress and anxiety.
How does hunger impact children?
Children who are hungry at school lose up to two hours of productivity a day, and consistent hunger can set a child back for life. When children do not have access to sufficient food, they have more challenges learning and are more likely to face long-term health challenges and developmental concerns in areas like language, motor skills, and behaviour. They are even more likely to experience suicidal ideation.
Why do weekends matter?
While school meal programs play a crucial role, there is a noticeable gap in support over weekends. Backpack Buddies delivers up to 6,000 bags of food to hungry kids in all corners of the province every single week. These bags are discreetly distributed to hungry kids every Friday through their schools, containing enough meals and snacks to last the entire weekend. Carefully chosen with guidance from educators and social workers, the contents are kid-approved, easy to prepare, and varied – perfect for growing children.
How has Backpack Buddies been making progress?
We started delivering our program in 2012 when Backpack Buddies made its first delivery of 20 bags of food to hungry children at a school in East Vancouver. Today, our team supports over 6,000 hungry children weekly by collaborating with educators, administrators, social workers, and other non-profits. In the 2022/23 school year alone, we successfully delivered over 1.5 million meals to children in 66 communities across BC! You can learn more about our impact at backpackbuddies.ca/impact.
How can I help?
Hungry kids in your community need us now, more than ever. We’ve got a list of all of the ways that you can get involved in fighting child hunger at backpackbuddies.ca/get-involved. Whether you’d like to join us as a donor, pack bags as a volunteer, or get your company connected, we look forward to partnering with you in putting hope back on the table for hungry kids across BC.