What began as a desire of Invermere resident, Gerard Paagman, to provide food to those in need at a difficult time, was realized in the spring of 2020 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 was to provide comforting meals twice weekly for twelve weeks to those in need, as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. Meals were delivered by our partners up and down the Columbia Valley from Canal Flats to Spillimacheen. Chef Nick Freiheitleads prepared up to 130 meals in the kitchen at the Invermere Legion, with the support of chefs Randy Mac Steven, Tony Roy, Adrian, Lara MacCormack and a team of volunteers. Each meal included an entrée with starch, delicious soup or salad, and a dessert, baked by Edibles Café and From Scratch. The meals were packaged and packed into bins followed all food safety and COVID-19 protocols.
The Columbia Valley Community Meal Program was much more than simply a nutritious and comforting meal. Each meal provided an opportunity for connection with recipients who were isolated due to the COVID-19 pandemic. A friendly face, a chat from a distance, and just knowing there was support out there did a lot to lift spirits during difficult times. And what better way to show love and support than through food?
The program was 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 also began a food recovery program in the Columbia Valley. 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.