Eliminating hunger one child at a time

Providing meals to hungry children.

  • Some kids not eating on weekends
  • Help also given to evacuees from Merritt
  • Program expanded to many schools during COVID-19

It’s a Monday morning at the New Life Centre and it’s filled with the buzz of busy volunteers, packaging and organizing meals for hungry children in the community.

“We help children that are at risk of food insecurity here locally in the Central Okanagan,” Food For Thought’s program coordinator Cheryl Hoffman told Kelowna10.

According to the organization's website, there are over 5,900 children in the Central Okanagan who live with uncertainty as to where their next meal may come from.

Their aim is to eliminate hunger in children, one child at a time, through various programs.

Nutrition in a backpack

One of those is the Backpack Program, which provides fresh nutritious food to kids who may not have eaten properly for days.

Hoffman said the program provides children with a backpack full of nutrition that they’re able to take home so they can eat something healthy when they’re not in school.

“When we initially did a pilot program for the Backpack Program, we found that it was really a need in our community,” Hoffman added. “These are children that we saw coming to school on a Monday morning not having eaten all weekend.”

Before COVID-19, the non-profit was participating in six schools, and now they have expanded into 17 with their Backpack Program.

“We need funding to keep these kids that don’t have enough food on the weekends fed,” Hoffman said.

The organization has partnered with Impact Tomorrow for a $120,000 campaign to help fund their Weekend Backpack Program for the entire 2021/2022 school year. The campaign ends on November 30th.

Supply challenges

However, the non-profit has struggled with food supplies amidst the recent flooding in BC.

“[With] the floods and the road closures, we’ve really struggled to be able to get our food supply,” Hoffman said.

“So today we were about an hour, an hour and a half late just due to the fact that trucks are late coming in, and a lot of products are having to be substituted right now.”

Despite the food shortages, the group was still able to help out 29 families who have been relocated to Kelowna due to the recent flooding.

According to the Food for Thought Facebook page, the team went over and above donating bags of food, canned goods, orchard jams, and fresh soups to assist with the displaced families.

“It’s hard to believe in the Central Okanagan that there’s over 5,900 children at risk of food insecurity, but that’s the reality,” Hoffman said.

“We need, as a community, to step up and help these children and take them from poverty to possibility.”

Published 2021-11-29 by Keelan Bourdon

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