By Alex Wilks/Now-Leader contributor
SURREY — The Rotary Club of Surrey Foundation recently received a generous donation to help fund The Starfish Backpack program for children attending Lena Shaw Elementary.
Local financial advisor and Co-Operators agent Ray Moschuk donated $6,650 to help the organization fill the backpacks and tummies of 10 deserving students.
“I just was shocked that there are kids that go to school Monday mornings and they’re hungry,” said Moschuk. “When I heard the local Rotary was doing something about it, I had to help.”
The program is a weekend food supplement service that provides children with backpacks containing two breakfasts, two lunches, two dinners and some snacks. It also provides families access to online resources that teach them how to cook and prepare meals.
Volunteers worked with nutritionists at Fraser Health to ensure the food going home with the students would be healthy. The club packs and delivers the backpacks to the school once a week.
“It helps us to provide a resource to families in need,” said Lena Shaw Elementary school principal, Sam LeRiche. “It’s a gift for us to make sure food is on the table for these kids.”
The program was created after teachers became concerned when they heard from their students that they had not eaten over the weekend.
“The teachers were going out and buying food for the kids,” explains assistant governor of the Rotary Distract, Lynn Spence. “It’s sort of bigger than just giving the food to the children because it’s really around making sure that these children have the same opportunities in their lives as other kids who do come to school well fed and able to learn.”
Spence explains how the inspiration for the program name came from a story.
“A little girl went for a walk on the beach with her grandpa and there was all these starfish that had been washed in. The little girl picked one up and threw it back into the ocean. Her grandpa said, ‘There’s no point in doing that, you can’t save them all.’ She said, ‘Yes but I saved that one.’
“That’s really why it’s called Starfish because the idea is one by one we can’t solve poverty in our community but we sure can one by one begin to help,” she said.
The Starfish Backpack program is supported by four Rotary clubs in Surrey, the Salvation Army, the Surrey/White Rock Food Action Committee, Sources Community Resource Society, the City of Surrey, Surrey School District and Save-On Foods.
Click here for more information.