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How Local Charities are Working Together to Fight Child Poverty in Our Own Backyard

Updated: Jun 12

When people hear the words food insecurity, BC Feed the Kids Foundation executive

director Ngaire Leaf knows White Rock isn’t often the first place that comes to mind. However, a staggering number of children - more than 150,000 - live below the poverty line in British Columbia. This means 1 out of every 5 children is facing the realities of hunger and the barries and instability that comes with child poverty. Right here in Surrey, 1 in 3 students are going to school hungry every single day. It's a situation SurreyCares Community Foundation sees as a top priority to address.

“Canada is the only G7 nation without a food program,” Ngaire says. After learning this

and reading in the local newspaper about how many children go to school hungry in their

community, two White Rock residents launched the foundation in 2019. Since then, they’ve

grown to feed more than 6,000 children in Surrey. Ngaire says they’ve been able to break down the barriers keeping children from accessing the nourishment they need.

Here’s how it works: through their Snack Attack program, BC Feed the Kids Foundation set up a dedicated fridge in the school that’s fully stocked for kids to access when they’re feeling hungry. The child doesn’t have to qualify for any special program. Any kid can go to the fridge and grab something to eat. This approach is particularly effective for some kids who, out of fear, might be less likely to access a food program. The accessibility and inclusivity of the Snack Attack program means - regardless of their family’s financial situation - any child can access the fridge, removing the fear of stigma.

“Food is an equalizer within the school environment,” one of participant schools says. “Our Snack Program bridges the gap and ensures that every child has an equal opportunity to learn, grow, and thrive."

It takes a team to run a program such as this. Currently, they maintain fridges in 3 Surrey schools. In addition to the Snack Attack program, they also have a Hot Lunch and Summer Meals program serving kids in the community. That’s why Ngaire says they’re overwhelmed with gratitude to SurreyCares Community Foundation for the recent funding they received. The grants were specifically earmarked for infrastructure projects and that’s exactly what they’ve used the funds for, growing their team so they build their in-house fundraising capacity. Ngaire says they’ve been able to use the money to hire a dedicated fundraiser for the organization. They made the hire in September 2023 – and have been off and running since then!

“Fundraising is a challenge because we need to raise more awareness,” she says. Now,

they have someone who is actively looking for grants and engaging with existing and potential corporate or personal donors. This newest team member has been a great addition to their team and, Ngaire says, it wouldn’t have been possible without the funding. This project is funded by the Government of Canada’s Community Services Recovery Fund.

“We are so grateful for being a recipient of the grant. It has made a huge impact on our

foundation,” she says. “We have been able to expand our programs and have more interaction and connection with our schools. It’s had a huge impact on how we are able to run the charity this year. We want donors to know there is such a great need in our own backyard. I don’t think people realize how many kids need food supports in BC.”



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