PENTICTON, B.C. – Valley First, a division of First West Credit Union has donated $2,810 to food banks throughout the Okanagan, Similkameen and Thompson valleys following a two-month pilot program, Get a Meal, Give a Meal—a socio-economic initiative focused on supporting local businesses and providing financial aid to food banks amidst challenging times.
The program was initially designed as a way for members of the credit union to provide financial support to organizations feeling the effects of COVID-19.
“The Get a Meal, Give a Meal program was designed with our members in mind,” explains Susan Byrom, Executive Director, Community Investment & First West Foundation. “Staying local and purchasing a meal provided an economic lift for our participating members. We don’t know what our future holds, but we do know we need to work together, and investing in our community is one of the very first places to start.”
Through the program, each order of $50+ at participating restaurants received a $25 discount, with each transaction also triggering a $5 donation to a local food bank. When the program concluded, $2,810 had been donated to food banks, in addition to more than $28,000 being invested in small businesses throughout Valley First’s trade areas.
“We had opened last August and a lot of people hadn’t checked us out yet; this program was a great opportunity for us to invite people in safely,” says Kevin Klippenstein, Owner at Row Fourteen in Cawston and Get a Meal, Give a Meal participant. “I’ve been a credit union member since I was a kid, so the values of the credit union in how it gives back to the community—it’s very much like our own values.”
While the program’s approach was new this year, Get a Meal, Give a Meal was part of a larger Valley First initiative—Feed The Valley. Aimed at raising food, funds and awareness about the critical issue of hunger in our communities, Feed The Valley has raised over $108,000 for food banks to date in 2020, with more than $2,380,000 donated in the program’s ten-year history.
“It’s in times like these where we really need to band together as community,” explains Paulo Araujo, President of Valley First. “Our values as a cooperative financial institution are built on collaboration, and this program was no different; the success of the program was contingent on everyone working together and we couldn’t be more proud of the support we saw for our local businesses and food banks.”