A North Langley student-run program that feeds fellow students who would go hungry on weekends is in jeopardy with the coming closure of its main supporter.
Weekend Fuelbag has fed students at R.E. Mountain Secondary, Walnut Grove Secondary and Yorkson Middle School since last summer.
The problem now for the Weekend Fuelbag program, however, is that Buy-Low Foods in Walnut Grove is closing its doors for good soon and the students are scrambling to find new donors for the program that provides about 16 needy students with two breakfasts, two lunches, drinks and snacks.
“It is a lot to ask of anyone,” said Brady Lumsden, a co-founder of the program and a Grade 10 student at Walnut Grove Secondary School. “Our main donor was really Buy-Low Foods in Walnut Grove. We are so thankful for their response because without them the program couldn’t have lifted off like it did seven weeks ago. They provided us with gift cards to shop in their store and said to come back when we run out. They really believed in this program and could see the value.”
Other businesses have given one-time donations, including Costco, Safeway, and Cobs. Lee’s Market has also made donations.
“We started the program back in the summer, knocking on Langley business doors to ask for donations,” explained Katrina Schulz, a student co-founders of Weekend Fuelbag and a Grade 12 student at R.E. Mountain Secondary. “We had many businesses give us a one-time donation, like Costco, Safeway, and Cobb’s. But I think it was too much of a leap of faith to say they would provide food every week.”
Emma Schultz, a Grade 8 student at Yorkson Middle School, said the organizers hope to continue the program.
“It is just really too bad for the kids in the program that count on this food each week,” she said.
It’s been a lesson in economics for the students, thrilled that they had such a supportive main donor but that changed very quickly.
The students plan to approach the Langley School District Foundation, their school parent advisory councils, principals and the Sources Langley Food Bank to see if there are options to keep the program going.
“If anyone would say that it isn’t for students or schools to feed students, we would say that it is part of being a responsible member of our community,” Katrina Schulz commented. “When you see people who need help, why not help if you can? From our perspective, students often cannot help themselves. It is not like they can work full time to help make ends meet. They need to be in school. And to be hungry and trying to learn is hard. We came up with this program because we knew kids who didn’t have much food (or any) at home on the weekends and we thought we should help them if we could.”
If anyone in the community wants to help support the program, they can contact the organizers on Twitter (@weekendfuelbag) or email firstname.lastname@example.org. They can pick up donations and any stores or food businesses willing to donate can arrange for pick up.
The current supplies will run out around the end of the month.
School counsellors help distribute the food to the students in need.
“It has been rewarding for us to be able to help other students, even if we don’t know who they are,” Katrina Schulz said. “The counsellors and youth workers are giving us feedback that the food bags are appreciated. I’ve also enlisted other students at my school to help with the project in my Rec Leadership class, and I know they are all happy to be helping with the program, too.”