Event supports local food bank

Hunger Awareness Week barbecue fundraiser Friday at Valley First

Something many of us take for granted, food, will be the focus of an event taking place Friday in support of the Vernon Salvation Army Food Bank.

As part of Hunger Awareness Week (May 7 to 11), a barbecue fundraiser gets underway Friday at Valley First Credit Union (3322 31st Avenue) from 11 a.m. to 2:30 p.m.

Feed the Valley (Valley First’s signature cause) presents the event, along with fundraisers up and down the valleys.

As part of the Feed the Valley campaign, valley-wide charitable organizations could also benefit from some significant support.

The First West Foundation will donate $42,000 from the Valley First Community Endowment to charitable organizations across the Okanagan, Similkameen and Thompson valleys.

During 2012, the Valley First Community Endowment will provide grants to organizations that run food-related programs for at-risk children, youth, seniors and families.

The focus of the grants is tackling hunger in the region, but they have also proved to have extended benefits.

“We were thrilled to receive this funding,” said Gay Jewitt, executive director of the Whitevalley Community Resource Centre and a recipient of a 2011 grant.

“This money has allowed us to expand and enhance some of our programs. This simply wouldn’t have been possible without the Valley First Endowment grant. With the addition of food and the creation of our breakfast program, we are seeing more people staying, socializing and making connections with others in the community.”

While the cash injection has been put toward programs focused on nutrition, it has also had the positive spinoff of creating social opportunities for seniors, providing events where they can gather, eat and get to know one and other.

“Some of our seniors were attending programs and then just leaving straight afterwards,” said Jewitt. “With the addition of food and the creation of our breakfast program, we are seeing more people staying, socializing and making connections with others in the community.”

Valley First Lumby branch manager Marlene Stark, was recently treated to breakfast prepared by program participants and volunteers.

“It was great to see firsthand what a difference our funding is making,” said Stark. “Everybody was so friendly and enthusiastic about what they were doing. I could really feel the difference that we have helped to make.”

For more information on applying for funding, visit firstwestfoundation.ca