Columbia Valley Food Bank Doubling in Size This Summer

The entrance to the Columbia Valley Food Bank. (Supplied by Lawrie Mack)

The District of Invermere has given the go-ahead for the Columbia Valley Food Bank to start construction on their new building.

Chair of the local Food Bank Lawrie Mack says they have been located in the basement of the Valley Youth Centre for many years, but the  "small, tight space" of 700 square feet does not allow them to operate at their full potential.

Invermere council approved a development variance permit at this week's council meeting, which means they can now start construction on their new 1,500 square foot building on the same plot of land.

He says the biggest improvement they are looking at is expanding the refrigerating space.

"We presently don't have the facilities to accept big donations or to go to the local stores or restaurants and provide a place to store extra food they might have."

The Columbia Valley Food Bank serves communities in the region from Canal Flats to Spillimacheen, providing on average 800 hampers to 1,350 adults and 550 children each year.

Mack has been part of the organization for the last five years, and despite their mission being that they will eventually no longer be needed, he says demand for their service has increased every year. 

The total cost of building their new centre is around $400,000. 

"We've gone to the Columbia Basin Trust who've provided $200,000, the Columbia Valley Community Foundation's provided $10,000, Kootenay Savings' Foundations provided $10,000, and a couple of private donors have provided more, so we currently have grants in the amount of $235,000."

When Columbia Valley rancher Albert Cooper passed away in 2012, he left nearly $700,000 to the Columbia Valley Food Bank to help sustain them in the long term.

Mack says they hope to use some of that money to fund their new building, but he certainly does not want to dig too deeply into their inheritance.

Shovels are expected to hit the ground next Wednesday, and given a construction period of around two months, he hopes to open the new food bank in September.

Audio: Lawrie Mack, Chair, Columbia Valley Food Bank

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