WATCH: The end of August means summer is on its last leg and it’s also when the back to school frenzy is in full swing. Parents are buying all kinds of supplies before classes begin in September. But how much are they spending? And what do you do when money is tight? Luisa Alvarez tells us.
Back to school is a busy time of year that can also be pricey. End of August sales certainly help but even so, families end up spending hundreds of dollars shopping to prep for September.
“I probably spend around $300 for school supplies and $750 a piece for clothing,” said one Victoria mother of three teenagers.
Many find ways to make it work. But for others gearing up for back to school is a dreaded financial burden they simply can’t afford.
‘This is an enormous struggle for families. Families that are a single-income family, families that have been on a budget or families that have struggled all summer long, without the additional support that they normally got like hot lunch programs and breakfast programs,” said Janiene Boice, director of development at the Mustard Seed Street Church.
For those families programs like Fair Start are essential. At the Mustard Seed, those who signed up for the program were able to get back to school kits. Each kit follows the B.C. guidelines of what they need for the first day of school and they are catered to each grade.
This year alone 750 children were helped and the need has been steady.
“We are continually seeing between 600 and 800 kids each year and sometimes there are additional needs. For example, this year we had 580 children that also needed some support with a back to school outfit, new shoes, and a backpack,” said Boice.
Since 2014, the program has helped more than 3,000 families.
“And each year we give them all away. People come in a little bit feeling shameful and they leave empowered there’s no stigma here we want to end that stigma so we create a space that is warm and inviting,” said Boice.
The need for this year has mostly been met, said Boice, but they are always looking for financial and volunteer support and community engagement.