The Eagle Valley Community Support Society’s food bank has benefited from several financial investments which have changed the way less fortunate residents of the district and surrounding area access food.
Utilizing grant funding from the B.C. government aiming to create more refrigeration space for food banks across the province, the food bank has undergone some major renovations.
The food bank volunteers envisioned a cold storage space for the society’s Sicamous Food Bank and new doors which would better connect it to the rest of the food bank’s storage, its kitchen and its customer service areas.
The renos, which have been coming together bit by bit for over a year, were finished at the end of November.
“Fortunately for us, Food Banks BC could see, even with only very rudimentary drawings to go from, the vision we had and funded us through two rounds of funding to provide almost everything we needed to complete the work,” said Janet McClean Senft in a written submission to the Eagle Valley News.
In the first round of funding, the Community Support Society received money to build a wall and door in what had been an office space, creating the public access and cold storage spaces, as well as the door into the main food bank storage space and the cooling units for both storage spaces and all electrical, plumbing, etc.
In the second round, the society was provided with the funding to install new lighting, and purchase and install a type of insulating wall board.
They were also able to purchase new shelving on wheels, a stainless steel table and a new trolley.
“We are thrilled; it is so much better for service and we are grateful to Greg Kyllo and Food Banks BC for their great support of food banks. But the best part of this story is about how people came together to help,”McClean Senft said.
As plans for the renovation required the removal of some of the food bank’s office space, the support society reached out for funding through the Shuswap Community Foundation to replace it. With funds from the community foundation, they were able to add a new office space before even losing the first one to the renovations.
McClean Senft reports that a local man who drives a grocery delivery truck would occasionally drop off fresh food items that would not keep.
She said once he found out that the refrigeration would allow the food bank to handle a lot more fresh food, he asked his company if he could bring more. Now he comes every week bringing a load of mixed produce, dairy products and other items.
“His generosity is wonderful but of course those loads require help to unload every Thursday night when he arrives, and so through our staff and board, they and their family members and friends starting turning up every Thursday night to help unload,” McClean Senft says.
“On Friday mornings, depending on what we had received, we would provide fresh foods to parents in our groups, call families that we knew could use the food, and we started calling the schools, and the community’s meals programs for seniors and sharing the food everywhere we could.”
She said the resource centre and food bank in Malakwa also benefits from the improved storage capacity in Sicamous. So that community and its programs have benefited from the food donations too.
According to McLean Senft, the story of the successful renovations at the food bank is one of the whole community coming together, from MLA Kyllo who she credits with helping to get the ball rolling to fund food bank upgrades provincewide, to the companies who offered discounted rates for the renovations, and to the Royal Canadian Marine Search and Rescue (RCMSAR) Station #106 members who helped food bank volunteers clear out the storage room and assemble the new shelving for it.
“What started out just being a hope of providing more fresh food to those needing food support has turned into something so much bigger and better than we ever imagined because of how the people of Sicamous and Malakwa care for the well-being of others and how they show that they value the work that is done by our agency to try to make life better for area residents.”
“The dollar value of the grants from Food Banks BC was a lot, the two totalled over $26,000, but the project left us with a feeling of pride that money couldn’t have bought. What a great place to live,” McClean Senft concludes.
Note: An Earlier version of this story said Eagle Valley Search and Rescue members helped assemble shelving for the food bank. In fact RCMSAR members helped with both removing all of the food and old shelving to allow the renovations to be completed and with assembling the new shelves and putting them in the newly renovated rooms. We regret the error.