October 04, 2016 - 1:18 PM
KAMLOOPS - A program to help feed hungry school children is coming to Kamloops.
The Starfish Pack Program will help feed 10 elementary school kids each weekend thanks to the Kamloops Rotary Club.
Christopher Seguin with the Rotary Club says it costs $525 per child for the rest of the school year to send them home with a backpack full of enough food for the weekend.
“When you look at child hunger you can assign blame to lots of factors,” he says. “One thing you can’t do is blame the kid.”
Who gets the backpacks will be decided by teachers and school staff. Seguin says it’s the people who work with the kids who’ll recognize those who are in need.
“Hopefully it breaks the cycle,” he says. “You have to stop thinking about the big problem and start thinking about the small solutions.”
The Starfish Program follows the Rotary club’s family dinner night, which happens twice monthly from September to April, and once monthly May to August. While the Starfish program was started by Rotary clubs around Vancouver and has spread through the province, the dinners are a local initiative.
Dinners are a partnership between Rotary clubs, the Kamloops Food Bank, School District 73 and Norkam Senior Secondary, where the dinners are held with volunteers and students preparing the meals, he says. Between 100 and 200 people attend a family dinner night including kids, parents and guardians.
“It’s a celebration instead of a soup kitchen,” he says.
The dinners are phase one of a childhood hunger initiative from the club, Seguin says, with the Starfish program the second phase.
“By creating just a family dinner you created a safe space,” he says.
While the meals are aimed at families facing challenges, Seguin says some return even as they gain some prosperity.
“It’s become a social pillar for it’s participants; it is awesome,” he says. “Over the last couple years we’ve seen children grow substantially.”
The family dinner idea is one the club is looking to export. Thompson Rivers University students are working on a manual so to share with other Rotary clubs. He hopes they will be shopping the program around the province this fall.
“All you need is a Rotary, a food bank and place to serve the meal,” he says.
Seguin says they are looking for Starfish backpack sponsors.
“The Starfish is nice because a business oriented individual can write a cheque and we’ll do it from there,” he says.
If you are interested contact Sequin at firstname.lastname@example.org for more information.
— This story was updated at 9:28 a.m. Oct. 5, 2016 with the corrected cost of the Starfish packs.
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