The 2020 school year is unlike any other because of the COVID-19 pandemic, but it’s not the only hardship faced by some local families.
Food insecurity is a reality for many Vernon families but the Kalamalka Starfish Society is doing its part to ensure local families are taken care of with a healthy supply of food provided each weekend.
“The need in Vernon for a consistent, healthy food supply is surprisingly significant,” society president Krista Blankley said.
Blankley said she recognizes how COVID-19 has affected everyone and when the pandemic was declared in March, the society worked closely with the school district to ensure food deliveries to families in need continued.
Now, as of Wednesday, Sept. 30, delivery has resumed in local schools.
“We are on a low income, so with three kids, the program helps us a lot,” one Vernon mother said. “My son is very excited to pick up his pack from school. He loves the healthy cereal with almonds and the granola bars. He unpacks it all himself, puts things away and helps to plan dinners for the family.”
Every Starfish Pack is filled with enough food for two breakfasts, lunches and diners, plus fresh fruit and snacks for the weekend.
The Kalamalka Rotary brought the program to Vernon in 2016 and in its first year, 20 packs were delivered to schools. Since then, The Kalamalka Starfish Society provides 78 Starfish Packs to 11 schools in the area thanks to generous donations from the community, the society and Kal Rotary.
”We have a number of incredible partners, donors and volunteers who make it possible for us to deliver an essential need,” Kalamalka Starfish Society vice-president David Spencer said.
“We are also very thankful to everyone who made a donation at last years’ Kal Rotary Dream Auction,” he said. “Over $64,000 was raised within minutes and we look forward to increasing the number of packs we provide soon.”
Alexis Park Elementary School principal Michael Sutch said well-balanced meals are important to a child’s development and growth.
“Without these packs, many of our families would go hungry over the weekend,” Sutch said. “Our students, families and staff are so grateful for the Starfish Packs that come every week.”
For more information on the program or to make a donation, visit starfishpack.com/vernon.