Program to feed Penticton children in need returns

The Rotary Club of Penticton’s program provides food for students in six Penticton schools.

The Rotary Club of Penticton is continuing their Starfish Pack program and providing children and their families with food for a third year.

“There is such a need in our community for this program,” said Tracy Van Raes, a Rotarian and the chair of the program. “The sad reality is that kids in our community are going hungry every day. We can never say no to these kids now that they rely on these backpacks.”

The Starfish Pack provides backpacks of food to local school-aged children and their families on the weekends. The backpacks are packed with food with support from Save-On Foods, and then delivered to local schools. The principal and teachers distribute the packs to children on Friday and the emptied bags are returned on Monday for the process to begin again.

The food provided is to supplement meals for two breakfasts, two lunches, two dinners and some snacks.

This year, Rotary Club of Penticton is happy to announce that they have increased from 45 backpacks in five schools in Penticton to 48 backpacks in six schools. The program has received praise and support from local businesses.

READ MORE: Penticton JCIs collecting donations for food bank

“Since bringing attention to this program, we have also received some amazing donations from local business owners, 100 Men Who Care, 100 Women Who Care, Cascades Casino, JCI Penticton and local individuals, which has allowed us to grow and to continue the program each September,” said Van Raes. “To sponsor one local child with one backpack of food for a year comes at a cost of $525, and so we are turning to our community and local businesses for assistance.”

This year, the Starfish Pack program is running in 19 cities around B.C. Since the program started in 2017, Starfish has been the recipient of a grant from the Community Foundation of the South Okanagan. That grant enabled Penticton to pilot the program with 11 backpacks in April 2017.

“We are extremely grateful to the community foundation and their donors for recognizing the need in our community for this program to get off the ground and offering their support yearly with grant money since its inception,” said Van Raes.

To sponsor a child’s backpack for a year or to get involved with fundraising, please contact Tracy Van Raes at Donations for individuals who require a tax receipt can also be made directly to the Starfish Program by visiting You can also like the program’s Facebook page at to stay up to date on the happenings of Starfish in our community.

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