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Feb 17 2021

Food program aims to end childhood hunger, one backpack at a time

Posted by Coastal GasLink

Ending childhood hunger happens one child at a time. For the Starfish Pack Program, it starts with sending one food-stuffed backpack at a time home with hungry kids when school lets out for the weekend. Many students across B.C. rely on school breakfast and lunch programs to fill their tummies on school days. When it comes to the weekend, they may not have the food they need. B.C.-based Starfish Pack Program was designed to help bridge that gap. For the last three years, Coastal GasLink has sponsored the Terrace Starfish Pack Program through TC Energy’s community giving program, called Build Strong.

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Each week, volunteers fill packages with two breakfasts, two lunches and two dinners, plus snacks, and deliver them to local schools for the students to take home on the weekend.

In the past three years since we started Starfish in Terrace, over 4,000 weekly packs have been sent out from our gym. Right now, we’re sending 103 packs a week. It costs approximately $600 to fill a backpack for a student for the full school year, and 100% of donations go towards purchasing the backpacks and nutritious foods.”

Ron Malmas
Starfish Pack Program coordinator

Each week, volunteers fill backpacks with two breakfasts, two lunches and two dinners, plus snacks and deliver them to local schools for the students to take home on the weekend. Prior to COVID-19, students would return the empty backpacks to the school the following week to be refilled for the weekend. Over the last year, volunteers have been packing and distributing food to students in reusable shopping bags provided by Save-On-Foods.


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The program has a cycle of 8 child-friendly menus. An example of some of the items includes cereal, oatmeal, pasta and pasta sauce, bagels, whole wheat tortillas, tuna or other canned meats, a variety of soups, chilli, peanut butter, jam, canned vegetables, fresh fruit, and granola bars.

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“Working with the Starfish Pack Program has been such a fulfilling partnership, especially during COVID-19 when students need it the most," explains Coastal GasLink Public Affairs Advisor Jessica Hunting. “To know that it’s having a direct impact on local kids, supporting their ability to focus, learn and play, is really impactful.”

The program has been particularly important for kids in need throughout the pandemic. Amid school closures, program volunteers, coordinators and teachers went above and beyond to extend the program and delivery to students’ homes. TC Energy has contributed $32,500 over the last three years – or the equivalent to approximately 54 backpacks.

“We are so appreciative of the funds from TC Energy knowing that kids and family’s lives are being changed,” added Malmas. “One parent recently asked why perfect strangers want to care about her family, the principal’s reply was ‘because they believe in community.’”

At TC Energy, we supply more than the energy people use every day in their modern lives. We also support organizations that understand the importance of food security in strengthening the health and vitality of communities.

Food is one type of energy we all need. We are proud to partner with causes, like the Terrace Starfish Pack Program, who are helping to alleviate the growing food insecurity crisis that has seen an unprecedented increase since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Interested in applying for support from Build Strong? Apply online today!