More Penticton kids in need will be fed through the Rotary Starfish Pack program, thanks to a new partnership with the Penticton Elks.
The program provides backpacks filled with food to needy kids each week and has now expanded to Queens Park Elementary, bringing the total to eight schools in the region and 60 kids being helped.
Elks president Laurie Kidd jumped at the chance to get involved and help facilitate the expansion through a $5,000 commitment and volunteer time.
"We had heard through the community that there was a need to expand the program," Kidd said. "We helped them out with some money and most importantly we have a solid core of volunteers here that are making this weekly commitment to come out and get these backpacks filled."
On Wednesday mornings, the volunteers will get to work filling the backpacks with food from partner Save On Foods, then the Rotary Club will pick the bags up Wednesday night and get them delivered to the schools.
"Everybody is working together. This is a service that is needed. It feels great to be involved in it," Kidd said.
Tracy Van Raes, Starfish Pack chair and Rotarian, says the partnership is a great step and the expansion is just "scratching the surface" of need in the community.
"There are lotos of programs available in schools during the day, during the weekdays, but on Friday a child is sourcing out where their meals are going to come from. So we provide them with a backpack of food for two breakfasts, two lunches, two dinners and some snacks," Van Raes explained.
"We can continue to expand from here, and we've never been able to do that before."
Volunteers gathered at the Elks location Wednesday for their first backpack-packing experience, including mayor John Vassilaki who helped deliver the food.
The cost of a backpack per year is currently $525. Any individuals or businesses interested in getting involved can contact the Starfish Pack program through their Facebook page here.