Welcome to our 2018/19 Annual Report.
Thanks to the generous support of people like you, 2018/19 was a banner year here at Backpack Buddies. Together, we raised more funding to deliver more bags of food to more students than ever before. It was the year of “more” because people like you were steadfast and generous in your commitment to support the most vulnerable children in our community. We couldn’t do this without you. Thank you!
With much gratitude,
Co-Founder + Executive Director
It can be really hard to ask for help. But Backpack Buddies is discrete and respectful. You just go in and pick it up. No questions asked. As a single mother, that support means everything when times are tough.
— Bertie, Mom of a Backpack Buddies recipient
Where We’re Heading: 2019/20
It’s been a big year here at Backpack Buddies with record amounts of food delivered and children served. But we aren’t slowing down – there’s more work to be done. Here’s a look at our goals for 2019/20:
- Delivering More Food: We have always had a goal of delivering 5,000 bags of food every month and every year we have gotten closer to achieving that goal. Currently we’re hovering at 3,400 bags delivered monthly. 2019/20 will be all about scaling up operations to make our 5,000-bag-a-month goal a reality.
- Increasing Weekly Deliveries: There are still some children at our partner schools that are only receiving bags of food on alternating weeks. In 2019/20, these children will be our primary focus as we will bump them up to weekly deliveries right away.
- Growing into New Space: This year, we outgrew the storage containers that we have been using as homebase for our operations and are actively looking for warehouse space to call our new home!
It has been a year of unprecedented growth for Backpack Buddies. Because of our donors, partners and volunteers, more bags of food were delivered to children and families in need than ever before. The past few years have seen important learnings for us – we’ve improved our processes and made operations more efficient. We have also gathered a strong, committed community of donors. Today, we are poised and ready for growth to meet the significant need that still exists.
— Geoff Pedlow, Chair of the Board
We’re All About Kids-Helping-Kids
Central to what we do at Backpack Buddies is our kids-helping-kids model – in fact, it was the spark that ignited this entire program.
In 2012, we started with an idea: what if we could build connection, empathy and a stronger sense of community-commitment among young people by empowering them to address one of the most significant, yet invisible, challenges our neighbourhoods face? Could we tackle childhood hunger in a big way? Could we change the lives of students at both “donor schools” and “recipient schools”?
Today, we work with 400 students at 18 donor schools that help support 977 students at 46 recipient schools. Students at donor schools are responsible for raising awareness in their schools around childhood hunger. These students also invest hundreds of volunteer hours a year packing weekly bags of food that then get delivered to recipient schools.
To learn more about how to get your school involved with Backpack Buddies, click here.
When I think about my own children and the kinds of things I want them to learn as they grow, instilling empathy and a commitment to service is something I deeply value as a parent. Backpack Buddies works so well because not only is the organization meeting a significant need by feeding children every weekend, they are also providing a valuable opportunity for students to volunteer — expanding their worldview and building their compassion.
— Ali Wilson, Board Member
Andrea’s Story: It’s All About the Kids
Before Andrea became involved with Backpack Buddies, her dream was simple enough: to find a charity she could volunteer at alongside her 9-year-old twin daughters. Whenever she would inquire about volunteering at local non-profits, she’d get the same answer: adults only.
“But at Backpack Buddies, it’s all about the kids,” she says. “It’s kids helping kids.”
Andrea was smitten by the organization’s unique ethos, and soon after learning about it, she helped bring Backpack Buddies to the Tri-Cities.
Unlike other Backpack Buddies sites, every student at Meadowbrook Elementary — where her daughters attend — takes a turn packing backpacks. Every other Thursday, a new group of students comes in to pack. Andrea gives a short talk about the program, and the students get to work.
“I’m trying to teach them what it takes to help, that it’s hard work, but also what it feels like when you are done,” she says. “When you teach the kids to do things now, they’re going to be better people and our whole community is going to be affected when it’s a norm for them to help out.”
– A startling reality –
Andrea, who moved to Canada in 2000, grew up in Slovakia. As a child, she very rarely saw families experiencing hunger. When she was introduced to Backpack Buddies, she was shocked to learn how many Canadian kids don’t have enough food to eat on the weekends.
“As a child, I cared about playing and I was worry-free because I was fed, I had a roof over my head. When I see kids here that are struggling, I feel that I have the means to help,” she says.
This reality motivates Andrea as she coordinates the program and delivers the packed backpacks to three Tri-Cities elementary schools on Fridays. Meadowbrook is also a recipient school, meaning some of the kids who pack also receive backpacks on the weekend.
“Even the children that take the packages get the chance to pack. Why would we take that opportunity away from them? They might need it but they still should experience the feeling of helping others.”
– “Why wouldn’t we do it?” –
One year in, Andrea hopes to continue volunteering with Backpack Buddies well into the future.
“It’s definitely made me a better person. I’m excited about doing it because we get to volunteer with the kids,” she says. “It’s refreshing to see that I am doing something to better the community. I always tell my kids, if we can make somebody’s weekend just a little bit better, then why wouldn’t we do it?”
Backpack Buddies relies on over 650 people like Andrea every year to volunteer their time to help reach children in need in our community. Curious about volunteering? Click here to learn how you can help.
Government Support: 6%
Ticket Sales + Sponsors: 4%
Explore our financials from 2018/19 here.
FreeYumm: No Child Left Out at Snack Time
When I first read about Backpack Buddies, I was looking for a kids program that FreeYumm could support. I already knew that underprivileged kids aren’t learning at school because they are hungry and that great programs have been setup to support feeding kids at school. But we forgot to ask ourselves, what happens to these children after they go home? The idea that children live with this amount of anxiety around food – knowing that they probably won’t be fed over the weekend – it broke my heart.
— Sarah, FreeYumm Founder
Read Sarah’s full story here and learn more about why she gives over 3,000 FreeYumm bars to Backpack Buddies every month.
Every year, companies from across Metro Vancouver step up and give either in-kind or financial gifts to help make Backpack Buddies possible. Does your company want to help vulnerable children in your community? Join us as a corporate champion! Learn more here.
It is people like you and your incredible commitment to this community that enables Backpack Buddies to reach hundreds of children every week. We are grateful to everyone who helped in their own unique way to bridge the weekend hunger gap for children in need in our community.