Source: First West Credit Union

Business Model Helps First West Credit Union Take a $1.2m Big Bite Out of Hunger

Expansive Network and Expertise Provides the Foundation for Successful Food Program

LANGLEY, BRITISH COLUMBIA--(Marketwired - Sept. 22, 2015) -

Editors Note: There is a photo associated with this press release.

Every year, more British Columbians are seeking help from local food banks. According to Food Banks Canada's HungerCount 2014 study, more than 97,000 people in B.C. seek assistance at a food bank every month, up 3.6 per cent from 2013. Nearly 31 per cent of them are children.

With Hunger Awareness Week (HAW) underway this week across Canada, First West Credit Union is gearing up to pitch in on multiple fronts in the fight against hunger. Over the next several weeks, employees of the credit union's divisions-Envision Financial, Valley First, Enderby & District Financial and Island Savings-will pitch in around their local communities by holding food and fundraising events, as well as participating in its annual Make a Difference Days program. This year First West is dedicating much of the program to food-related projects run by non-profits and charities in its communities. From Oct. 5-9, employees from B.C.'s southern interior, through the Fraser Valley and Lower Mainland, to Vancouver Island and the Gulf Islands will lend a hand at local food banks, community kitchens and community gardens.

That same week, First West will double-down against hunger as its Envision Financial and Valley First divisions join Global BC, Global Okanagan and Shaw Media on Oct. 8 for another year of the Thanks For Giving drive. In 2015, the drive raised $40,000 and 85,000 pounds of food for the 96 food banks across B.C.

"First West has arrived at a place where others are seeing the value we can create in addressing important issues like this," says Susan Byrom, First West's senior manager of community investment.

Since its inception in 2010, First West Credit Union has become a leader in the fight against hunger. Its Feed the Valley program has provided food banks across B.C's southern interior with more than $943,000 in donations and nearly 65,000 pounds of food. In just two and a half years, The Full Cupboard program has raised more than $266,000 and nearly 29,000 pounds of food for local food banks in the Fraser Valley, Lower Mainland, and Kitimat regions.

"First West has been, and continues to be, the strongest corporate champion of food banks in B.C.," says Laura Lansink, executive director of Food Banks BC. "Their support has made a significant difference to people all over the province."

The success of First West's programs is driven from an unexpected place: the credit union's business model. First West's divisions are familiar local brands, led locally but having the benefits of a larger organization, such as buying power, scale of economy, and knowledge transfer.

"We knew as an organization we could make an even bigger difference in the communities we serve by rallying around a signature cause that is something we really care about and people can easily relate to," says Byrom. "The depth of resources, expertise and existing partnerships provided by our operating model has enabled us to share and work together from the Lower Mainland to the Interior to make an even bigger difference for the food banks that serve our communities."

"For First West to make the kind of impact we could feel proud of, we had to increase our commitment," Byrom says. "Annual food drives are critical, but we wanted to help be a sustaining force when it comes to driving awareness and raising resources for local food banks. One day or one week of the year isn't enough."

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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 nearly $10 billion in assets, more than 240,000 members and more than 1,700 employees. It operates 54 branches throughout the province under the Envision Financial, Valley First, Enderby & District Financial and Island Savings brands. Visit for more information on First West Credit Union.

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Media Contact
Jason Brown
Manager, Public Relations & Communications