Sarah, her husband and two daughters, Brook (11 years old) and Paige (8 years old) live in Gibsons—a small town a short ferry ride away from Vancouver.
In the middle of the pandemic, Sarah was diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis—a chronic, incurable, autoimmune disease that causes significant decreases in mobility.
The progression of her disease means that Sarah relies on a wheelchair. She has lost her job, cannot grocery shop by herself, and can no longer cook meals for her family. With her husband working long shifts on tugboats, it has made putting food on the table a significant challenge.
“The force of a diagnosis like this hits you like a freight train and your life changes quickly,” Sarah explains. “Our family is holding things together one day at a time. We are a family in crisis.”
Sarah was introduced to Backpack Buddies through her daughters’ elementary school. A counsellor knew they were struggling and took the simple step of including them in the group of kids that receive Backpack Buddies.
“Backpack Buddies has removed all the barriers. It’s easy to get this support and there’s no stigma. The girls bring the food home on Fridays and it’s done. It is what it is for them—no fuss”
For three years, Sarah’s daughters, Brook and Paige, have each come home from school with a backpack full of food—with enough meals and snacks to last them the weekend and beyond.
For this family, and the families of over 5,000 other kids across BC, this support is critical.
“This is a part of our safety net as a family,” she explains. “Having that resource in our lives means that we’re not ever 100% out of anything…Even when our cupboard is almost empty, there’s always going to be a meal or snack available for my girls.”
“Backpack Buddies is such an awesome program,” Sarah shares. “There are all kinds of cracks in the system that families like ours can fall through…I live in a world where every little bit helps—and this little bit means a lot.”