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Tackling Food Insecurity in British Columbia

A strategic plan to help Backpack Buddies bridge the weekend hunger gap in British Columbia. 

One in eight families in British Columbia experiences food insecurity. Vulnerable students may take advantage of school food programs during the week, only to experience a weekend hunger gap when little support is available. A recent UNICEF Canada report predicts that the costs related to the post-pandemic economic recovery, the climate crisis, and other issues will increase food insecurity and child poverty in the years ahead. 

Founded in 2012, the Community First Foundation (CFF)—operating as Backpack Buddies—tackles the child hunger crisis in BC by providing bags of food for the weekend to students who need them. Recognizing the need for a new strategic plan to guide the organization’s growth and development in this challenging environment, CFF engaged Junxion. This was the second strategic planning cycle Junxion facilitated for CFF. 

The Challenge 

The pandemic, the climate crisis, and rising inflation have shown how easily supply chains will be disrupted for the foreseeable future. Despite a new delivery model, warehouse, and more staff, Backpack Buddy’s operations were running at capacity. With family budgets feeling the squeeze, CFF recognized that students needed other types of support, such as clothing and computer equipment, and were uncertain if and how they should respond by diversifying their project portfolio. 

CFF needed to review its programme offer and determine the best way to develop its organization. They had reached a point where they need to assess and enhance their governance, management structure and the relationship between board and staff.

How We Helped 

Junxion designed an inclusive, workshop-based approach to ensure all voices were heard. We interviewed staff, partners and client stakeholders and carried out a materials review. This initial research phase surfaced key opportunities and challenges for CFF to consider and informed the subsequent two workshops we held with staff. 

We acted as a critical friend throughout the process, supporting CFF while pushing them to help clarify their mission. The new strategic plan enables CFF to harness its capabilities to maximize its impact in the current challenging environment. Clear, actionable, and written in plain language, everyone throughout the organization can use the plan in their day-to-day decision-making. 

The new strategic plan balances growth and impact with the constraints of this post-pandemic moment in history and the organization’s capabilities and capacity.

Measuring Success 

The statements of intended impact at the end of each section of the strategic plan articulate CFF’s vision of success. This will help ensure that implementation of the strategic plan is measurable. Since publishing the strategy, Junxion has provided CFF with implementation and coaching support. Early data indicates that the clarity of the plan is helping Backpack Buddies make purposeful steps toward achieving their ambition to improve and grow the reach of their current programming. 

This strategic plan equips us to move forward. It will be a vital touchstone for operational planning in the coming years, guiding our work, enabling crisp and clear decision-making, and charting our growth and development.

– EMILY-ANNE KING CO-EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR AND CO-FOUNDER, BACKPACK BUDDIES
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