Dealing with the Back to School Struggle

Guest post provided by Erin Katerynych, Executive Director, Empty Stocking Fund, Battlefords District Food & Resource Centre.

August kicks off the beginning of the back to school routine. The season of new haircuts, new clothes, school supplies, and don’t forget about the registrations for all the after school programs! Back to school can be a wallet-draining, stressful time of the year for most families. What about the families who are already struggling to make ends meet? How do they cope with the added costs? It’s a pivotal time for parents, watching your children who have grown another year older, gaining even more of their independence. It’s a bittersweet time of year for many and for some, it can be just plain bitter.

There are families, here in Canada that can barely make ends meet on a monthly basis, and some struggle daily. Add the back to school costs to the already long list of expenses a family has and the stress can be overpowering. I know this because once upon a time before I became the Executive Director of the Food Bank in North Battleford SK, I was a single mother struggling to make ends meet. I wanted the best for my boy when he went back to school but that just wasn’t in the budget.

I once worked two jobs as a single parent while also taking university classes. I have experienced the anxiety  of month to month living. The back to school expenses and trying to figure out how to work it all into the budget is very stressful. Now as the Executive Director I watch the influx of people who access the Food Bank in August, trying to make all the ends meet with the back to school costs.

August is a very busy time for food banks, and here in North Battleford it is one of our busiest months. It’s also a time of year when donations are down. The food on our shelves is lacking.  Many of our fabulous donors are looking to their own families’ back to school costs, while others are still off on their summer vacations. People are busy.

When you are out and about shopping for your kids’ school supplies, or new clothes, or your weekly groceries, please think about those who are struggling at this time of year and help. A small gesture can make a huge impact. Hunger doesn’t take a vacation.