We have supplied a $5,000 Emergency Community Support Fund grant to the Rotary Club, which is being used to support the Starfish Pack Program, a food security program that provides two breakfasts, two lunches, and two dinners each week to 60 Surrey families.
Rotary Club provides education and health programs to the Surrey community. They provide schooling programs, awards, and scholarships to students displaying academic merit, community involvement and leadership. They started the food program back in 2016 where they provided weekend food services that delivered 10 backpacks to families in one elementary school that contained two breakfasts, two lunches, two dinners, and snacks. They have expanded over the years to provide services to four elementary schools delivering 60 Backpacks.
“We are so grateful that this funding from SurreyCares helps ensure food security for children and their families,” expressed Lynn Spence, Assistant Governor of the Rotary Club. “While this is a program that is supporting needs during the pandemic, it’s a program that was needed before it as well and will continue to be needed. By supplying this food to school children, we ensure that they can return to school over the weekend well fed and able to reach their potential at school. This program allows us to help the children have a better future overall.”
The pandemic has adversely affected food security for families in Surrey. The Surrey School District and local teachers have reported that hundreds of kids in Surrey are coming to school hungry, as they had not eaten over the weekend. Before the pandemic, a backpack full of nutritious food is delivered to the schools each week during the school year. However, since COVID hit, the in-person services have decreased. This was due to safety regulations placed concerning the social distancing regulations.
During COVID, the Rotary Club of Surrey have collaborated with various programs and organizations to ensure that they can help the community during these tough times. Their collaboration with the Seeds of Change program has helped them in learning more about the nutritional needs so that the meals they provide have nutritional value. They have also been receiving support from the Salvation Army where they are packing weekly. The Rotary Club of Surrey provides Save On Food gift cards for $20, each week to over 60 families to follow social distancing regulations.
“The funds received from SurreyCares were used to purchase 270 Food cards from Save On Foods, each in the amount of $20. These Food cards have been distributed to the four Local Elementary Schools that we support,” explained Bryce McElroy, treasurer of the Rotary Club. “100% of the donations received by us goes into buying groceries. There is a small amount of administrative cost for buying the backpack and office expenses which are taken care of by the Rotary Club itself.”
With the help of the Starfish Pack program, the schools have reported an increase in attendance from their students. Teachers have also reported improvements in children's reading skills, math skills, ability to focus and to do cooperative work.
(Left to Right) Christine Buttkus, Bryce McElroy, Lynn Spence
This grant is made possible through the Government of Canada's $350 million Emergency Community Support Fund, which saw over $900,000 allocated to SurreyCares in its first round and now, over $575,000 in the second round.
Christine Buttkus, the Executive Director of SurreyCares stated, “We were grateful to be able to support this grant. We are still hearing that hunger and the need for basic programs is a significant necessity in the community during the pandemic. We are supporting quite a few food programs in Surrey and the need is still acute.”
Individuals and businesses who wish to support Surrey charities are asked to give to the Surrey Community Relief Fund. In partnership with the Surrey Now-Leader, Surrey Board of Trade and The Saheli Foundation, the goal is to raise $500,000 to support the most vulnerable populations in Surrey.
To learn more about the Rotary Club of Surrey, visit their website here.