Salmon Arm residents who might not normally have the means to enjoy a meal from a local restaurant have been able to do so thanks to Maureen Fisher.
A longtime supporter of the Second Harvest Food Bank, the COVID-19 pandemic prompted Fisher to look at a way to continue providing that support while also helping local restaurants during the pandemic. The answer was gift cards and certificates.
“Because of COVID-19 and the subsequent economic impact, there’s a lot of people who are unemployed and the food bank has seen a surge in people coming to get a little help,” said Fisher, “And I can’t think of anything worse than not having enough money for food, especially when children are involved.
“I thought because I’m able to help them it’s a good idea that I do so.”
With restaurants having to close early on in the pandemic, and placed under tight restrictions by the B.C. government in order to reopen, Fisher wanted to help them as well, hoping her purchases might help keep staff from being laid off.
“I do it once a week every Wednesday and the restaurants are getting used to me now,” said Fisher.
Salmon Arm Panago owner Greg Williams is grateful for Fisher’s ongoing support.
“She’s been purchasing certificates for the food banks for probably since it started… We give them to her at cost to try and get her more bang for her buck, and they go to the food bank and then the people come in and everybody seems to be happy,” said Williams.
“It’s a sweet deal,” said Shuswap Pie Company owner Tovah Shantz, who was especially impressed when she learned where the gift certificates were going.
“I didn’t know where they were going right off the bat, but when I found out she was bringing them to the food bank… that’s just amazing,” said Shantz. “Somebody doing that and spending that much money at downtown businesses regularly is a pretty sweet deal. So I’m very grateful, we’re all very grateful.”
Also very appreciative are the staff at Second Harvest and those who use the food bank.
“It’s made a huge impact on the people who come here…,” said Second Harvest manager Vahlleri Semeniuk, explaining Fisher would receive applause from food bank users when dropping off her donations.
Semeniuk guessed Fisher has donated several thousand dollars in restaurant gift cards to the food bank.
“She’s been doing it for months now… she’ll bring 50 and 100 cards at a time worth $20, $25 each,” said Semeniuk.
In addition to the gift cards and other donations, Semeniuk said Fisher has been providing food for a family of five every week for many years, and also donates grocery store gift cards at Christmas.
“Empathy for your neighbours, your friends and your fellow Salmon Arm people is very important…,” said Fisher. “I think it’s important for people to think about other folks at this time.”