Every Thursday morning, volunteers meet at the Scott Road facility of DeltaAssist, to await the arrival of the Save-On-Foods delivery truck. After the truck arrives, 130 food packages are prepared and delivered to the elementary schools of North Delta.
The following day, on Friday afternoons, school staff distributes the food packs to elementary school children based on need. Each food package helps feed an average of more than two children over the weekend.
A few years ago, the North Delta Rotary Club was struggling to fund a fraction of current demand.
“Without the generosity of our sponsors and our donors, we would not have been able to continue feeding the existing children, let alone meet the doubling of demand over the past two years,” said club president Dave Brown. “In particular, we want to recognize the substantial donations from the Vancouver Fraser Port Authority, G&F Financial Group, and the City of Delta to the North Delta Starfish Pack program. We appreciate our partnerships with DeltaAssist Family and Community Services Society, who provides space for our operations, and Save-On-Foods, who delivers food weekly at a discount to the prices on its store shelves.”
Each pack contains enough food for six meals, including cereals, oatmeal, pasta and pasta sauce, whole wheat English muffins, whole wheat tortillas, tuna or other canned meats, a variety of soups, chilli, peanut butter, jam, canned vegetables, fresh fruit, and granola bars. The contents of each backpack are adjusted for dietary preferences (e.g., vegetarians) and food allergies. It costs in excess of $600 to supply a child with a weekly food package throughout a school year.
The North Delta Rotary Club started its program on a modest scale in 2016, delivering a half dozen backpacks per week to a single elementary school.
By June of 2020, 60 backpacks were being delivered each week to elementary schools across North Delta. Similarly, demand for Starfish food packages have doubled over the past two years. Instead of falling as anticipated during the autumn of 2021, demand has continued to rise.
The impact of the Covid-19, rising grocery costs, general living costs, and the winding up of Canada Emergency Response Benefit (CERB) program, has created additional hardship for North Delta households.
As the program is run by volunteers, on premises provided by DeltaAssist, there are no overhead costs for the program. Nearly every dollar raised is spent on food for children.
Starfish funding has come through a combination of donations by residents and community groups, corporate foundation donations, B.C. Gaming, and emergency COVID-19 funding from federal programs. Details on the program can be found on: https://starfishpack.com/delta/ or www.northdeltarotaryclub.com.