LANGLEY, BRITISH COLUMBIA--(Marketwired - April 29, 2014) - Year after year, food banks in British Columbia continue to see an increase in demand for its services as a significant number of British Columbians are struggling to put food on the table. In 2013, more than 94,000 people in British Columbia were assisted by food banks every month, of which 29 per cent were children*. First West Credit Union and its network of regional brands, Envision Financial, Valley First and Enderby & District Financial are committed to making a difference in the fight against hunger, not only in light of the upcoming Hunger Awareness Week, but all throughout the year.
"It's sobering to see that so many Canadians are dependent on food banks to help them access one of life's basic necessities," says Susan Byrom, manager of community investment at First West Credit Union. "Hunger Awareness Week is a growing movement to raise awareness about the solvable problem of hunger in Canada and we all have a part to play in giving hunger a voice and making a difference. At First West, we take the issue of hunger very seriously and for that reason, we have chosen to undertake it as our organization's signature cause."
With this in mind, Feed the Valley and The Full Cupboard, two community investment programs created by Valley First and Envision Financial were established. These programs aim to raise food, funds and awareness for food banks in communities where Valley First, Enderby & District Financial and Envision Financial operate.
"The First West team, alongside our regional brands Envision Financial, Valley First and Enderby & District Financial have a long and proud history of supporting food banks in the communities we serve," says Byrom. "Our signature community programs, Feed the Valley and The Full Cupboard are an extension of this commitment as they enable us to consolidate our efforts in driving awareness and raising funds in the fight against hunger."
Byrom adds, "Across our regions, the way our employees, members and communities have embraced this hunger-fighting initiative has blown us all away. We've set ambitious goals for both Feed the Valley and The Full Cupboard, aiming to raise $1 million in 10 years for each program and I have no doubt that this goal will be reached."
Earlier this year, Feed the Valley celebrated its fourth anniversary. Since the program launched in March 2010, food banks across B.C's Southern Interior have received more than $615,000 and in excess of 25 tons of food thanks to the efforts of Valley First employees, members and community partners. Additionally, building upon the success of Valley First, The Full Cupboard was developed as a long-term community investment program at Envision Financial in 2013. The program recently marked its one year anniversary and has already generated tremendous results, raising more than $95,000 and collecting more than 11,600 pounds of food for the 11 food banks that operate in the Fraser Valley and Lower Mainland.
"Without a doubt, when we look at some of the troubling statistics surrounding the issues of hunger in BC, there are times when it seems as if our food banks are faced with an overwhelming challenge," says Laura Lansink, executive director at Food Banks BC. "I am however a firm believer in the old adage that a burden shared is a burden halved. And while there are many in our province who donate and support the amazing work of our food banks, the First West team has proven time and again that they are so much more than donors or supporters-they are true partners. They're partners who have stepped in to work alongside our food banks at every opportunity with food, funding, volunteering and sincere encouragement at every level. I speak from experience when I say that when that kind of partnership occurs, burdens become much lighter and hope grows! For Food Banks BC and its members, this means everything to those who reach out to us daily for help and assistance."
Members of the local community can support Feed the Valley or The Full Cupboard programs by donating non-perishable food items or making cash donations at their nearest Valley First, Enderby & District Financial or Envision Financial branch. Cash donations of $20 or more are tax-deductible and can be made as one-time contributions, through regular, pre-authorized payments or online at www.foodbanksbc.com/get-involved/feed-the-valley/ or www.foodbanksbc.com/get-involved/thefullcupboard.
About First West Credit Union
First West Credit Union offers members the financial strength, comprehensive product selection and extended branch network of a large financial institution while maintaining local brand identities and a unique grassroots approach to service. Led by Launi Skinner, First West is British Columbia's third-largest credit union with $7.7 billion in assets under administration, more than 177,000 members and close to 1,300 employees. It operates 39 branches throughout the province under the Envision Financial, Valley First and Enderby & District Financial brands. For more information on First West Credit Union, visit www.firstwestcu.ca.
Follow First West Credit Union on Twitter: @firstwestcu.
*Source: 2013 Hunger Count - http://www.foodbankscanada.ca/FoodBanks/MediaLibrary/HungerCount/HungerCount2013.pdf