Rotarian Michelle Owen, left, passes Starfish food bags to Suwilaaks vice principal Roberta Clarke for delivery to students who no longer can take them home from school because of the COVID-19 pandemic. (Photo courtesy Ron Malmas)

Rotarian Michelle Owen, left, passes Starfish food bags to Suwilaaks vice principal Roberta Clarke for delivery to students who no longer can take them home from school because of the COVID-19 pandemic. (Photo courtesy Ron Malmas)

Student food pack demand soars because of school closure

Starfish program now delivers food to students’ homes

The demand for a Friday afternoon take-home student food program run under the auspices of the Rotary Club of Terrace Skeena Valley has soared since the COVID-19 pandemic closed schools.

Compared to providing for approximately 60 students at a small number of schools prior to the pandemic, the Starfish program now provides food packs to approximately 170 students at more schools.

Because schools cannot offer regular breakfast and lunch programs, Starfish took on extra importance at the end of spring break in March when it became apparent school closures would go on for some time, says Starfish coordinator Ron Malmas.

“There is just such a greater need now,” he said.

Just as was the case pre-pandemic, the goal is to provide a nutritious selection of food for a student that can last over the weekend and now, in the pandemic era, every effort is made to bolster the quantity that is distributed.

“Fruit, porridge, pasta … a good variety for a student and to help another,” said Malmas.

A group of volunteers made up of community members, Rotarians and school district support workers gather each Friday at the Parkside gym where bags are laid out, awaiting food items for placement.

“This is a partnership — Rotary, the school district and Save On Foods,” said Malmas, adding that the combination of the three along with the volunteers has resulted in smoothly operating system.

In the past, pack bags could be reused but in these times, that’s not permitted so Save On Foods not only provides food items at an attractive cost, but also sturdy bags each week.

With the increased demand, Malmas puts the weekly cost at $2,500 or $10,000 a month with financing coming from grants, business and private donations and schools themselves who are passing along the money that would otherwise be spent on in-school food programs.

“Donations can be made to the school district, which can offer a charitable receipt, and they flow the money right to us,” said Malmas.

When ready, the food packs are placed in vehicles and delivered by the school principals to their students’ homes.

“They know where it’s needed,” said Malmas. “The goal here is to help kids in need.”

School district official Agnes Casgrain, who looks after the district’s varied food programs, says having school district principals and other school district employees do the deliveries helps maintain confidentiality between the district and families.

“By allowing their family name to be on our list they are sharing a vulnerability with us and we need to hold that vulnerability in gentle hands,” she said.

Casgrain recently spent a day at the Parkside gym helping to pack bags, saying it was an experience that shows what can happen people come together for a common purpose.

“There was a special feeling of camaraderie perhaps grown from the satisfaction people get from doing something that is good and right,” she said.

This is the third year for the Starfish program in Terrace and although it does not normally continue on once school ends, there is consideration for doing that this summer because of the pandemic, Casgrain continued.

“Parkside School will be available as a venue and if what we have seen in terms of volunteers over the last few months is any indication then the work team volunteers will be willing and ready to help out,” she said.

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

FILE – Wet’suwet’en hereditary chiefs have agreed to sign a memorandum on rights and title with B.C. and Ottawa, but elected chiefs are demanding it be called off over lack of consultation. (Thom Barker photo)
Wet’suwet’en hereditary chiefs, Lake Babine Nation get provincial funding for land, title rights

Government says it’s a new, flexible model for future agreements between Canada, B.C. and First Nations.

Kieran Christison, manager of Daybreak Farms in Terrace inspects eggs on Oct. 30, 2020. Christison wants to transition to a zero waste, cage-free facility. (Black Press Media File Photo)
Daybreak Farms aiming to achieve zero-waste, cage-free facility

Kieran Christison, manager, presented the farm’s future plans to Terrace city council

Mercedes Trigo, assistant manager, said that Trigo’s Lifestyle Store in Terrace has experienced four broken windows and an attempted break-in recently, leaving her feeling unsupported by bystanders and the police. (Ben Bogstie/Terrace Standard)
Trigo’s management frustrated by property damage, theft

In a little over a month there have been four broken windows and an attempted break-in at the store

Two RCMP officers have been recognized for their actions in responding to an incident involving a man with a weapon at 4501 Park Ave. on the afternoon of April 27, 2020. RCMP say it was an isolated incident and there is no danger to the general public. (Jake Wray photo)
Terrace RCMP officers recognized for acts of bravery

Two involved in arrest of armed suspect

Rainbow trouts thrashing with life as they’re about to be transferred to the largest lake of their lives, even though it’s pretty small. These rainbows have a blue tinge because they matched the blue of their hatchery pen, but soon they’ll take on the green-browns of their new home at Lookout Lake. (Zoe Ducklow/News Staff)
VIDEO: B.C. lake stocked with hatchery trout to delight of a seniors fishing club

The Cherish Trout Scouts made plans to come back fishing soon

Royal Inland Hospital in Kamloops. (Dave Eagles/Kamloops This Week file photo)
RCMP intercept vehicle fleeing with infant taken from Kamloops hospital

The baby was at the hospital receiving life-saving care

Vancouver Police Const. Deepak Sood is under review by the Independent Investigations Office of B.C. after making comments to a harm reduction advocate Sunday, April 11. (Screen grab)
VIDEO: Vancouver officer convicted of uttering threats under watchdog review again

Const. Deepak Sood was recorded Sunday saying ‘I’ll smack you’ and ‘go back to selling drugs’ to a harm reduction advocate

Provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry prepares a daily update on the coronavirus pandemic, April 21, 2020. (B.C. Government)
B.C.’s COVID-19 infection rate persists, 1,005 new cases Friday

Hospitalization up to 425, six more virus-related deaths

Premier John Horgan receives a dose of the AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine at the pharmacy in James Bay Thrifty’s Foods in Victoria, B.C., on Friday, April 16, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chad Hipolito
B.C. Premier John Horgan gets AstraZeneca shot, encourages others

27% of residents in B.C. have now been vaccinated against COVID-19

The Nautical Dog Cafe at Skaha marina is getting its patio ready in hopes Mother Nature will provide where provincial restrictions have taken away indoor dining. (Facebook)
‘A lot of instability’: B.C. restaurants in layoff limbo

As COVID-19 cases stay high, restaurants in British Columbia are closed to indoor dining

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau looks on as Deputy Prime Minister and Finance Minister Chrystia Freeland responds to a question during a news conference on Parliament Hill in Ottawa, Tuesday, Aug. 18, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
Expectations high as Trudeau Liberals get ready to unveil first pandemic budget

The Liberals will look to thread an economic needle with Monday’s budget

Since April 4, 38 flights with COVID-19 cases have departed from Vancouver International Airport, while 23 arrived. (Phil McLachlan/Capital News)
Vancouver the largest source of domestic flights with COVID-19 cases: data

This month alone, 38 flights with COVID-19 cases have departed from Vancouver International Airport, while 23 arrived

John Furlong, Own The Podium board chairman and former CEO of the Vancouver Olympics, addresses a Vancouver Board of Trade luncheon in Vancouver, B.C., on Wednesday November 25, 2015.THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
John Furlong presents 2030 Winter Games vision to Vancouver Board of Trade

Vancouver and Whistler would remain among host sites because of 2010 sport venues still operational

Most Read