Welcome to our new Community Impact Report!
This past year, amidst unprecedented circumstances and uncertainty, you stood firmly with us and helped to get Backpack Buddies into the hands of hungry kids across BC.
Check out the video to watch a special welcome message from our Vice President and Co-founder, Emily-anne King.
BC has one of the highest child poverty rates in Canada. Kids in every community and every neighbourhood are living with the persistent impact of food insecurity.
And that’s before COVID-19. Food banks help, but many families still depend on school breakfast, lunch and snack programs to meet their children’s baseline nutritional needs.
That’s why this year, with your generous support, Backpack Buddies delivered more bags of food than ever before and extended our reach into new communities across the province. From the Sunshine Coast to Port Hardy, Mission to Alert Bay, we expanded far beyond the Metro Vancouver area to feed hungry kids across the province.
You were there with us, every step of the way.
Here’s a snapshot of what we did together this year…
Summer Expansion Due to COVID
With COVID-19 showing no signs of slowing down through the summer months, we knew we couldn’t either. With various distribution points closed, like schools, we pivoted quickly and reached more kids than we have ever connected with in a summer season before…
Thank you for stepping up in a time of great uncertainty to ensure that kids in our communities had the help they needed.
Alert Bay (Namgis)
The Sunshine Coast
“Over the past eleven years, my husband and I have taken in four of our grandchildren so they wouldn’t be left in the foster care system,” Frieda explains to us.
Frieda’s blended family lives in Vancouver’s Downtown Eastside. Frieda and her husband navigate supporting their four grandchildren who are in Kindergarten, Grade 4 and Grade 7 with no involvement from the children’s biological parents.
“Addiction and mental health have always been challenges for our children—this has caused our grandchildren to face a wide range of learning disabilities. Despite the challenges we all face, I am determined to ensure that none of them end up in foster care. They know they are deeply loved and cared for.”
Over the past year, Frieda has been able to access Backpack Buddies for each of her grandchildren through their schools.
“It’s a big relief that the bags come right home with them. It removes the barriers I have faced in trying to get to the Food Bank and lining up for food handouts. For me, Backpack Buddies provides consistent, reliable support that our family can count on.”
More Inspiration + Impact
Throughout the year we have shared stories of expansions, challenges and Hunger Heroes who have
stepped up to support their communities. Check out a few of our favourite stories from this past year.
Volunteer Spotlight: Ken
Every week you can find Ken in the warehouse, happily filling bags and making all of us smile with his enthusiasm. Recently retired from working in marketing and sales promotion, Ken found his way to Backpack Buddies just as COVID-19 was taking off when his wife saw us on a news story on TV.
“In some ways I think volunteering is a natural next step for me after working. It’s a commitment and is involved—and best of all, I think that just doing something for your community is an important part of being in a community. The fact that there is food insecurity and that kids are actually going hungry seems very strange in our society, but it’s so much more common than we think. The need is there, so to me it makes sense that we each step up in our own way to address those needs.”
— Ken, Backpack Buddies Warehouse Volunteer
Our Covid-19 Response
Many of the kids that Backpack Buddies serve rely on school meal programs for their daily nutrition. In March 2020, when the COVID-19 pandemic shut schools, what we used to call the “weekend hunger gap” suddenly became a seven day hunger gap.
While the need in our community skyrocketed, our ability to run Backpack Buddies faced challenges at every turn. The supply chain, volunteer network and distribution network we depended on evaporated and we had to start again.
To get our bags of food into the hands of kids who needed it most, while working around unique barriers like a requirement for contactless deliveries, we teamed up with partners across BC who were also reaching vulnerable kids and families. They became our distribution partners and together, we amplified our impact to serve our communities’ most vulnerable.
Many donors just like you came on board with us—
generously giving even in times of financial uncertainty—
to keep feeding hungry kids.
Together, we scaled up to be able to deliver 3,000 bags of food each week that included four more meals and many more snacks than our typical bags.
The long term impact of this change is that we are able to keep delivering high volumes of kid-friendly meals and snacks 12 months of the year as we are no longer fully dependent on schools to act as distribution partners.
Thank you for helping us to step up when everything was shutting down—we couldn’t have done this without you
COVID EMERGENCY RESPONSE PARTNER SPOTLIGHTS
The People’s Pantry Food Recovery Society
The People’s Pantry Food Recovery Society works to recover food from grocery stores, veggie markets, and bakeries to distribute in hampers to single moms, seniors and other vulnerable populations in the Tri-Cities. During COVID-19, we partnered up with them to get our bags of food into the hands of kids they serve.
“Backpack Buddies is such a bonus for us. Because the food we are able to recover from stores is so unpredictable, we never know if we will have kid-friendly options to put in our family hampers. Backpack Buddies makes sure we have staples for the kids—a standard set of food that they will eat and enjoy. We’ve always believed in the power of community, but to see how organizations have banded together through COVID-19 to bolster each other’s efforts and to be more efficient is nothing short of inspiring.”
— Pam Eberl, Executive Director
Westcoast Family Centres’s Local Love Food Hub
The Local Love Food Hub was an emergency response initiative launched by the United Way of the Lower Mainland in April 2020 to address the urgent need for food during the COVID-19 pandemic. Westcoast Family Centres ran one of the 135 Local Love Food Hubs that were strategically placed across Metro Vancouver. Every week, dedicated volunteers delivered groceries, food hampers, prepared meals, frozen meals and other essential goods at no cost to people in the community who were facing food insecurity. During COVID-19, we augmented their gamily hampers to include kid-approved meals and snacks.
“Backpack Buddies provided a very welcome security for families that receive our hampers—knowing that there would always be kid-approved food included. When parents would come to pick up their hampers, the kids would get to grab their bags from Backpack Buddies—it helped them to feel a part of the solution for their family. Our collaboration with Backpack Buddies was a key part of supporting the whole family.”
— Nicole, Coordinator
COVID EMERGENCY RESPONSE PARTNER SPOTLIGHTS
Award-winning chef, Trevor Bird, is no stranger to pressure. The two-time finalist on Top Chef Canada and Top Chef Canada All-Stars has had to think on his feet but, like so many of us, was stopped dead in his tracks by the COVID-19 pandemic in March 2020.
“My team at Fable Kitchen was pivoting every two weeks,” he remembers. “We did take-out food and all sorts of other things — it was so stressful. But the universe always gives you what you need.”
For Trevor, that turned out to be a rekindled relationship with Emily-anne and Joanne from Backpack Buddies.
“They hosted a Mother’s Day online cooking class last year. When it was over, they approached me and suggested that this could be turned into a really cool fundraiser for Backpack Buddies.”
Ultimately, the partnership between Backpack Buddies and Trevor’s team at Fable Kitchen turned into so much more than that.
“The Backpack Buddies team helped us turn a Zoom class for six people into a highly efficient program that could be rolled out to small and large groups of friends, families and colleagues. The model we created together kept Fable alive for the pandemic.”
Trevor and his team have over 180 virtual cooking classes under their belts and are showing no signs of slowing down.
“We’ve helped to raise close to $40,000 with Backpack Buddies and it’s such a beautiful collaboration,” he says. “Now, $5 from every ticket I sell goes to Backpack Buddies. This partnership has changed the way I view business and life and the way I want to move forward in this world.”
Impact At A Glance
“Thank you for the lovely experience at the Cooking for a Cause event over the weekend. Both myself and my colleagues very much enjoyed the experience and the food was fantastic. We are so proud to support your organization and truly commend the work you do, especially meeting the increased demand during these challenging times.”
— Wheaton Precious Metals, Cooking for a Cause Participants
We’ve always been proud of our community’s commitment to responding to the hunger crisis with creativity and passion. Want to get involved? Learn more about how you can use your own business and ideas to feed local kids today.
Other Income: $62,117
People, Transport & Warehouse: $558,213
Explore our financials from 2020/21 here.
Standing With Us
This year we saw unprecedented levels of emergency response support from donors across BC to meet the rapidly growing need around food insecurity resulting from COVID-19. We have much gratitude for the companies, government partners, foundations, and private donors listed here—and so many more—who helped feed hungry kids across BC every single weekend this past year.
“In celebration of ice cream for breakfast day, we wanted to partner with an organization who is focused on food security specifically supporting children. Backpack Buddies was a perfect fit and our partnership has continued with the Ice Cream for Breakfast Day fundraising as well as staff volunteering and additional events. We’ve loved partnering with Backpack Buddies and being a part of the incredible work you do.”
— Erica Bernardi, Co-Owner / Operator, Earnest Ice Cream
Breakfast Club of Canada
Canucks for Kids
Chabad Lubavitch of British Columbia
CIBC Wood Gundy
City of North Vancouver
City of Surrey
CKNW Kids’ Fund
Community Foundations of Canada
District of North Vancouver
Emergency Community Support Fund Port Coquitlam
Emergency Community Support Fund – Remote Communities, Burnaby, Pitt Meadows
Emergency Community Support Fund – Mission
Emergency Community Support Fund – North Vancouver
Emergency Community Support Fund – Port Coquitlam
Emergency Community Support Fund – Sunshine Coast
Emergency Community Support Fund – Surrey & Langley
Emergency Community Support Fund – United Way
Emergency Community Support Fund – Vancouver Foundation
Emergency Community Support Fund – Victoria & Sooke
Emergency Community Support Fund Coquitlam
Emergency Community Support Fund Surrey
Gordon B. Shrum Charitable Fund
Mel & Geri Davis Family Trust
PCI King George Developments Inc. and Fraser & King George
Province of British Columbia
Quiet Cove Foundation
Social Venture Partners Vancouver
Sunshine Coast Community Foundation – Emergency Community Response Fund
SurreyCares Community Foundation
Taylor Phillips Charitable Foundation
Teck Resources Limited
TELUS Emergency Response Fund
TELUS Friendly Future Foundation
The Legion Foundation
The Morris and Helen Belkin Foundation
The Palmer Family Foundation
The Palmer Family Foundation
The Vancouver Sun Children’s Fund
The Wheelbarrow Fund
The Wolrige Foundation
United Way of the Lower Mainland
Vancouver Fraser Port Authority
Vancouver Sun Children’s Fund
Vancouver Sun Children’s Fund
VanTel/Safeway Credit Union Legacy Fund
West Vancouver 2010 Legacy Foundation
Wheaton Precious Metals
Hunger lives in your neighbourhood.
It could be right next door.
It doesn’t have to be this way. Join us and turn hunger into hope for a child in your community, year-round.