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Wim and Nancy Pauw Foundation donation aims to help Bow Valley Food Alliance

“Social connection is one key to happy and successful communities. The COVID-19 pandemic made it clear that the BVFA offers essential supports to a cross-section of people throughout the Bow Valley and our donation will help them build on the work they have done and ensure their long-term sustainability.”
20210226 Banff Food Rescue 0503
A table full of vegetables and fruit collected from local grocery stores for the Banff Food Rescue on Friday (Feb. 26). The volunteer-driven organization's goal is to provide food security in the Bow Valley by keeping good food from becoming food waste. Due to COVID-19 restrictions, volunteers now prepare bags of food to hand out at evening distributions on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays. Participants are encouraged to donate $5 for a bag of food. EVAN BUHLER RMO PHOTO

BOW VALLEY – A $90,000 donation from the Wim and Nancy Pauw Foundation will go to the Bow Valley Food Alliance (BVFA) to further address food insecurity issues in the region.

The donation was made by the Banff-based organization and will go to the BVFA to help fund resources to support programming, build on its success and strengthen the organization.

“The Wim & Nancy Pauw Foundation takes great pride in promoting access to healthy lifestyles for community residents and visitors. The BVFA leads Bow Valley communities in the creation of local, affordable, inclusive, and healthy food systems,” said Cathy Geisler, executive director of the Wim & Nancy Pauw Foundation in a media release.

The foundation also committed $50,000 to the BVFA in 2020.

Discussions to form the BVFA began in 2013 and it was established in 2016 with the intent to advocate and address food concerns in the Bow Valley. It became a non-profit society in 2020 to further support local food producers, ranchers and processors. The organization’s goals are to support community-based food systems and food security issues that are faced by many locals.

The BVFA’s food charter aims to strengthen local food systems and programs to help address food affordability concerns and accessibility. It can also help with policy guidance for elected officials and municipal workers.

Improvement District No. 9 and the Town of Banff signed onto the charter last year, while the Town of Canmore joined earlier in 2022.

Food insecurity has become a growing need in the region, particularly during the COVID-19 pandemic. The BVFA released a report on food insecurity from March 2020 to June 2021 that focused specifically on the impacts of the pandemic on food locally.

The report emphasized the growing cost of food, challenges to getting food and potential solutions to the issues.

The group has also completed individual reports for Banff, Canmore and the Municipal District of Bighorn that highlight the strengths and weaknesses of food security in each municipality.

“With the support of the Wim and Nancy Pauw Foundation, we can dedicate the time, energy, capacity, and intention needed to build socially- and ecologically-just food systems within the Bow Valley community,” said Michelle Backhouse, BVFA coordinator in a media release.

“The generous funding from the foundation enables the BVFA to hire dedicated contractors who connect, coordinate, educate, inspire and advocate for a food system rooted in reciprocity and relationships.”

The BVFA conducts several events each year that focus on food security, education on food systems and community building.

The Wim and Nancy Pauw Foundation was established in 2013 as a private foundation. It is funded by profits from Banff Caribou Properties Ltd. and Banff Lodging Company with the goal to reinvest in Banff and the Bow Valley to support local projects.

It has a budget of $1.4 million in 2022 that focus on grassroots initiatives that meet the pillars of active lifestyles, education and community building.

“Social connection is one key to happy and successful communities,” said Geisler. “The COVID-19 pandemic made it clear that the BVFA offers essential supports to a cross-section of people throughout the Bow Valley and our donation will help them build on the work they have done and ensure their long-term sustainability.”