Submitted by Columbia Valley Food Bank Board of Directors

A number of questions and comments have been posted on the Facebook page of Cheers and Jeers Invermere concerning the Columbia Valley Food Bank and food banks in general. We believe it is appropriate to comment on a number of these.

The Columbia Valley Food Bank provides hampers to those accessing our services. Each hamper includes: frozen lean ground beef, wild meat (if available and requested) and chicken; peanut butter and jam; cereal, pastas and bread; potatoes, carrots and onions; a number of canned items including soups, meats, fruits and vegetables; sugar, flour, rice and oats; coffee or tea; fruit juices and margarine, as well as coupons to obtain fresh fruits and vegetables from the Good Food Co-op. In an average year, we provide approximately 800 hampers to 1,350 adults and 550 children.

We purchase in excess of $3,500 in food per month from local merchants to fill our hampers. We rely 100 per cent on donations from the community to fund the Food Bank.

We did receive a terrific legacy donation of $650,000 from the Estate of Albert Cooper. As reported in this newspaper, we are in a strategic planning phase and continue to investigate how the funds can best be used. In the interim, the funds have been placed in interest-bearing instruments with the interest being used as funding for our programs including providing healthy food for students at local schools and preschools.

We agree with comments that our distribution centre is not the best. However, we are open only two hours a week to receive requests and distribute hampers. Our space is generously provided free of charge by the District of Invermere. We recognize we will have to upgrade at some time, but that will require an outlay of funds both to move and on a monthly basis.

To accommodate those who are working, we open the evening of the third Wednesday of each month. Food can be obtained in emergency situations by telephone or personal request.

Community Gardens are a terrific idea. We are currently investigating partnerships and any interested parties are encouraged to come forward as a volunteer

We would like to take this opportunity to say thanks, goodbye and all the best to Gracie Boake in her new home in Grand Prairie. Gracie was our co-ordinator for the past three years and worked tirelessly for the Food Bank and others in the valley. Please join us in welcoming our new coordinator, Natika Bock.

The involvement of the community has always been a main objective of the Food Bank and we are constantly reminded of the caring and generosity of our residents. We thank you for your comments and support and encourage you to contact us with any questions or concerns at 250-342-0850.