Backpack Program in the Sarnia Observer

The Sarnia Observer on the BGC’s Project Backpack by Carl Hnatyshyn

The Boys and Girls Club’s Isabella Kokkinis packs a bag for Project Backpack, an initiative that helps address the issue of food insecurity among Lambton County youth. (Carl Hnatyshyn/Postmedia Network)

A recently launched initiative that provides youth with a bag full of food, toiletries and information is helping address the growing issue of food insecurity in Lambton County.

This past summer, the Boys and Girls Club of Canada entered into a partnership with President’s Choice Children’s Charity to launch Project Backpack.

“Basically it’s an initiative to tackle food insecurity for children and families in communities across Canada,” said Boys and Girls Club of Sarnia-Lambton program coordinator Lisa Lanouette.  “Specifically here in Sarnia-Lambton we’re targeting youth aged 14 to 24.

“It’s geared towards youth who can’t access the food bank for whatever reason,” she continued. “They could have food insecurities, they might be nervous to go to the food bank, they may not want anyone to know that they’re struggling, so this gives them a barrier-free access to nutritious food that can get them by for a few days.”

Every week, volunteers from the Boys and Girls Club assemble bags that contain items such as food that can be used to make easy-to-assemble, healthy meals, sanitary products, snacks, cereal, drinks, toothbrushes and toothpaste. Each bag also contains coupons, reading material and information from local agencies directing youth to their services.

The bags can be picked up at one of several locations across the county by youth aged 14 to 24, Lanouette said – and at no cost to the recipient.
“We distribute about 20 bags a week from the Boys and Girls Club here in the Lochiel Kiwanis Community Centre, we also distribute 10 at Lambton College, five to LCCVI and five to the Hub,” she said. “We’re looking to expand out to the county as well because there’s definitely a need for it out there too.”

With winter coming, the Boys and Girls Club are asking individuals and local businesses if they can donate mittens, hats or scarves to put in the bags, Lanouette said.

“We’re also looking for other donations,” she said. “We’re grateful for all the help we’ve received so far. Myles Vanni from the Inn of the Good Shepherd is one of our greatest supporters and several local organizations have already helped us out, they’ve provided us with so much.”

To donate or for more information about Project Backpack, contact the Boys and Girls Club of Sarnia-Lambton at 519-337-3651 or email

Project Backpack pickup locations and times

  • Boys and Girls Club of Sarnia-Lambton, 180 College Ave. N. (Lochiel Kiwanis Community Centre): Monday to Friday 3 to 6 p.m.
  • LCCVI – 4141 Dufferin Ave., Petrolia: Thursday/Friday
  • The Hub – 350 Indian Rd. – Friday, 3 to 6 p.m.
  • Lambton College – SAC office – Thursday/Friday
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