The demand to provide meals to children in need skyrocketed during the COVID-19 pandemic forcing Backpack Buddies to expand efforts to feed more kids than ever, says one of its founders.
Emily-anne King is the vice-president and co-founder of the Vancouver-based program that is targeting what she calls "the weekend hunger gap," when there may not be enough food at home.
"You hear often about breakfast and lunch programs at school, but don't often consider what's happening to those children on the weekends who rely on that support," King told Kathryn Marlow in an interview for All Points West.
King, who founded the charity with her mother in 2012, says the demand has been unprecedented during the pandemic with Backpack Buddies providing more than one million meals to children all across B.C. this school year.
"We've had this continual demand for what we do, week in and week out since this started back in March of 2020. And we don't see it slowing down at all," she said.
More families in need
King says this is likely because many families found themselves in financial difficulties due to job losses during the pandemic.
She says one mother recently described what the program means to her.
"She said it now allows her to eat dinner herself. So before she may have forgone feeding herself in order to make sure that her children had dinner," King said.
She says before COVID they had difficulty distributing meals during the summer months when kids weren't in school. But Backpack Buddies has now joined with community centres and other volunteer organizations to distribute food.
"It created a summer program for us. We're looking forward to really expanding and ramping that up this summer and trying to feed as many kids," King said.