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Grocer feeds hungry kids in Vernon, now Armstrong

Save-On-Foods supports Starfish Backpack program, providing weekly food to elementary students
Members of Save-On-Foods and the Starfish Backpack program (from left) Erica Davies, Mary Jackson, Nathan Murphy, Darryl O’Brian and Terry Trainer. (Contributed)

Keeping elementary school kids properly satiated has been the goal of the Vernon Starfish Backpack Program.

Now in its seventh year as a partner, Save-On-Foods has continued to help out the program by ensuring that throughout the school year, backpacks contained sufficient food for two breakfasts, two lunches, two dinners along with snacks and fresh fruit and veggies.

The Starfish program started with just six backpacks as a response to an Abbotsford’s teacher’s cry for help, as she felt many of her students were coming to class hungry on Monday. The backpack program was designed to feed students every weekend of the school year.

Since its inception, Starfish has expanded to more than 24 cities, helping to ensure that children across the province don’t have to worry about weekend hunger.

“The pandemic certainly brought challenges that none of us could have expected, but the Starfish Backpack Program remained top of mind for us,” said Save-On’s store manager Nathan Murphy. “We know how important this program is for the children in our community and we are proud to continue to support them in any way that we can.”

According to program chair Mary Jackson, “since 2016, we have responded to the need for more backpacks and are now providing more than 150 bags or backpacks each week at 17 locations.”

The program is now using Save-On-Foods bags as well as backpacks, according to each school’s preference.

The backpack program is available to every elementary school in the Vernon School District, and has recently expanded to include elementary and middle schools in Armstrong. If you know someone experiencing food insecurity, they are encouraged to reach out to their school staff.

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Bowen Assman

About the Author: Bowen Assman

I joined The Morning Star team in January 2023 as a reporter. Before that, I spent 10 months covering sports in Kelowna.
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