The Friends In Need Food Bank will be expanding its school meal and snack program beyond regular school hours.
The local food bank has been selected by Food Banks Canada to be a participant in the After The Bell program, which has already been operating in eastern Canada and is now moving west.
After The Bell supplies food to children when they are not in school during the summer months.
Breakfast and lunch programs are offered during the school year, but in summer some children have to go without.
In Maple Ridge and Pitt Meadows, the Friends In Need Food Bank supplies children with food through a school meal and snack program and Rotary’s Starfish Backpack program.
The Starfish program already sees 77 children in eight schools in the Maple Ridge-Pitt Meadows district bring home food for the weekend. A lot of funds are needed, because one pack for an entire year costs $525.
“Children don’t stop being hungry in the summer and the After The Bell program is an initiative trying to address the issue,” said Mary Robson, executive director of Friends in Need.
“It is not an easy fix and how do you reach the children who are in need,” she asked.
Through After The Bell, snack packs will be distributed when school is not in session. Each snack pack will include fresh produce – a fruit and a vegetable – juice boxes, granola bars, fruit and jello cups, instant oatmeal, hummus, among other items.
Starting this summer, the packs will be distributed during July and August to summer school programs and summer camps through parks and recreation in Pitt Meadows, the Salvation Army camp and the Burnett Fellowship Church Starfish families.
Starfish families will also receive extra food that would normally be supplied to them through the backpack program.
“I have 300 of these snack packs to give out every week to any kind of a youth organization, a youth camp, youth program,” Robson said, and she is currently looking for programs in August that the packs can be distributed at.
Any packs that are left over will go to the Salvation Army Ridge Meadows Ministry’s back-to-school event the last week of August.
The After The Bell program is funded by Food Banks Canada and sponsored by French’s, The Hershey Company, Kellogg Canada, Loblaw Companies Limited, Organic Meadow and The Global Foodbanking Network.