What began as a desire of Invermere resident, Gerard Paagman, to provide food to those in need at a difficult time, was realized on April 15, when Columbia Valley Food and Farm, in partnership with the Columbia Valley Food Bank, Family Dynamix, Akisqnuk First Nation, the Shuswap Band, the Metis Chartered Community and the Invermere Legion – Branch 71 launched the Columbia Valley Community Meal Program!

The goal of the program is to provide comforting meals twice weekly for twelve weeks to those in need, as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic.  Meals are delivered by our partners up and down the Columbia Valley from Canal Flats to Spillimacheen.  Chef Nick Freiheitleads the preparation of up to 130 meals in the kitchen at the Invermere Legion, with the support of chefs Randy Mac Steven, Tony Roy, Adrian and Lara MacCormack and a team of volunteers. Each meal includes an entrée with starch, delicious soup or salad, and  a dessert, baked by Edibles Café and From Scratch. The meals are packaged and packed into bins following all food safety and COVID-19 protocols.

The Columbia Valley Community Meal Program is much more than simply a nutritious and comforting meal.  Each meal provides an opportunity for connection with recipients who are isolated due to the COVID-19 pandemic.  A friendly face, a chat from a distance, and just knowing there is support  out there can do a lot to lift spirits during these difficult times.  Let’s face it, what better way to show love and support than through food?

The program has been funded by Columbia Basin Trust with in-kind support from the Invermere Legion and the Columbia Valley Food Bank.  As a result of the successes of the Columbia Valley Meal Program, we have also begun a food recovery program in the Columbia Valley which will continue to be built upon and formalized over the coming weeks.  With the closures of restaurants in our valley, much of the leftover food was donated to the meal program and the chefs have been able to utilize delicious fresh foods that may have otherwise been wasted. Restaurants, farms, food service organizations and faith communities who have been donating foods include, Rocky River Grill, Horsethief Creek Pub and Eatery, Old Blue Truck Farm, Heritage Farm, the Rocky Mountain Café at DTSS, Huckleberry’s, Grey Wolf Golf Course, all the Panorama Restaurants, Circle Health, Sysco Foods, the Golden Sikh Temple and many others.

Columbia Valley Food and Farm has worked closely with our partners to ensure food is provided to those in our community who need it most.  The meal program is fully subscribed to at the moment, but if you are in need of this support or you know of someone who is, please contact one of the following agencies:

For further information, please contact Toni Howard at welcome@cvchamber.ca or Alison Bell at cvfoodandfarm@gmail.com

We would like to give a huge THANK YOU to the Columbia Valley Meal Program Planning Committee: Gerard Paagman, Bemnet Feleke, Al Miller, Pete Bourke, Toni Coward, Lawrie Mack, Mark Taylor, Nick Freiheit, Alison Bell, Lara McCormack, Joanne Bragg, Kelsey Prichard, and Purnima Gosavi.