The Lake Country Food Bank needs the voting power of the Okanagan Valley! We want to become the hub for a food recovery network within the Okanagan Valley and have applied to the Aviva Community Fund for a grant to make our dream a reality.
Here’s how you can help: Register with the Aviva Community Fund at www.avivacommunityfund.org. You will be asked to register using Facebook or to provide your name and a valid email address and to create a password, so you can sign in. Registered participants have a total of 18 votes to use during the Voting Round and you can cast all 18 votes at once or at different times throughout the Voting Round. Cast your votes between October 10, 2017 @ 9:00 am PST and October 19, 2017 @ 1:00 pm PST by using the link https://www.avivacommunityfund.org/voting/project/view/17-197.
Our story begins with a famous quote from the Field of Dreams movie, “If we build it they will come…” This quote aptly applies to Lake Country Food Bank since moving into our facility in 2016. First, we would like to acknowledge the tremendous financial contribution from the Aviva Community Fund which went towards construction of our facility, our community and organization—thank you so very much!
Here’s how the building has facilitated so many exciting opportunities within Lake Country, but more importantly, in the Okanagan Valley. This is the list of synergies we have capitalized on since opening our doors:
- We have increased our volunteer base from 10 to 60 individuals.
- Food donations have increased in terms of type of food items we can accept (fresh produce donations: in 2015 at our previous facility we received 4000 pounds; in 2016 we received 20,000 pounds of vegetables and fruits; and for 2017 we are on track to break the previous year’s numbers) and meat donations have also increased due to increased freezer capacity.
- Partnerships have increased: we’ve benefited from our local Community Garden who supplied a huge assortment of produce which was shared with other food banks and community groups. We have increased the number of local farmers and orchardists who see us as an important donation point for sharing produce that would not meet size and appearance requirements of retail stores. All of this is due to our increased cooler space, and we’ve been able to share the produce with our very appreciative partners.
- We have developed a food sharing network called “Helping Thru Sharing” which includes 8 small food banks and numerous non-profit organizations who serve approximately 2000 people per month (these are start-up numbers which we know will continue to grow as the network matures. Membership currently includes numerous breakfast and lunch programs at schools, 3 senior serving organizations, 7 churches and 2 service clubs).
- We assisted families affected by flooding in May/June 2017 and the wildfires in the summer.
- All of these activities are on top of serving clients within our own community.
Now we have another dream: To be the hub for a food recovery network within the Okanagan Valley! We are located in the middle of orchard country in British Columbia’s interior, rich with fruits and vegetables that are shipped not only throughout the country, but the world. These orchards, grocery stores and food service organizations regularly throw out food that could be redirected to people who are hungry. We know that food is thrown away that could be salvaged and shared with our clients and partners, and we have an undeveloped lower level that would be perfect for this next phase. Preliminary discussions have taken place with these various groups to determine the viability of the project and most have been positive to contributing to the food recovery program. Funding has been received from Food Banks Canada and Walmart Canada to start construction in the undeveloped lower level and Food Banks BC has provided funds for refrigeration (i.e., cooler, freezer and reefer truck).
What we need now are the dollars to finish the undeveloped lower level to accommodate the equipment and work space required for the food recovery hub. We feel this is the missing link to increasing our food supply for those in need up and down the valley. Once the space is developed we know that sustainability will be easy to continue as there are service clubs, community and provincial grants we would tap into to continue the program.
To wrap up, the Lake Country Food Bank wants to be the change agent in regards to food recovery in the Okanagan Valley. We are ready and willing, with Aviva’s financial contribution, to tap a food supply that can feed the hungry, save the environment and become part of a sustainable food system.
Haven’t heard of the Aviva Community Fund? For eight years, the Aviva Community Fund has been putting their money where their business is – investing in charitable community initiatives across Canada, protecting the people and things you love, supporting the causes you care about most, and strengthening your local community. The Aviva Community Fund is also proud to have provided more than $7.5 million in project funding to date, and they can’t wait to donate another $1+ million this year.
Every vote helps, so remember to vote between October 10, 2017 @ 9:00 am PST and October 19, 2017 @ 1:00 pm PST by using the link https://www.avivacommunityfund.org/voting/project/view/17-197 and vote for our idea.