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B.C. food-aid programs seeing spike in hungry students amid high inflation, grocery costs

The school year began on Sept. 6, after a summer of inflation rates reaching as high as 8 per cent .
A child poses for a photo with a Backpack Buddies bag of food. (Submitted by

Due to the rising cost of living and inflation, many food-aid programs in B.C. are expecting to see an uptick in the number of students coming into the classrooms hungry and without food.

The school year began on Sept. 6, after a summer of inflation rates reaching as high as 8 per cent.

In their July report, Stats Canada said that while gasoline prices dropped in July, the cost of groceries rose once again.

Emily-anne King, the co-founder of B.C.-based food-aid charity Backpack Buddies, told Black Press Media Wednesday (Sept. 7) that the organization has been seeing “skyrocketing demand.”

READ MORE: Bank of Canada raises key interest rate by 0.75%, says rates likely need to go higher

Every Friday morning, Backback Buddies is one of a handful of organizations that delivers bags of food to schools in communities across the province. The bags are then given to children in need before they leave for the weekend.

King said in one week alone, they have added 500 children and six new B.C. communities to their program.

In June, King spoke with the Canadian Press and said they expected to help about 2,100 kids weekly this summer. They now help over 4,500.

“We are mindful that children receiving support never feel singled out and that no one is made to feel like there’s something wrong or abnormal about their family’s circumstances,” the organization states on its website.

The need for food is not just specific to one region of the province, but is “widespread, deep-rooted and province-wide,” King said.

According to a 2016 report by the BC Center for Disease Control, in collaboration with researchers from the University of Toronto, one-in-nine households in B.C. is considered food insecure.

King encouraged teachers to visit if they see a child that could benefit from receiving a bag of food.

READ MORE: Child hunger a major concern as Canadians hit by soaring food prices

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Anna Burns

About the Author: Anna Burns

I cover health care, non-profits and social issues-related topics for the Surrey Now-Leader.
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