People in the Columbia Basin are continuing to experience the broad and serious impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic. To provide immediate support, Columbia Basin Trust announced $11.7 million in funding earlier in April. In response to ongoing developments, the Trust has now expanded the types of services that qualify for this support.
“The situation caused by the pandemic continues to evolve, and the Trust is actively monitoring the challenges arising in the Basin and the aid provided by all levels of government,” said Johnny Strilaeff, Columbia Basin Trust President and Chief Executive Officer. “With input from our partners and communities, we’ve decided to assist a wider range of services consistent with our strategic priorities as established by Basin residents.”
For example, Trust funding is helping food recovery groups ramp up their programs and adapt to pandemic-related changes when it comes to reducing food waste and helping families eat nutritious meals. Farmers’ markets will get a hand operating this coming season to ensure they can continue providing locally grown, nutritious food. The Trust is expanding its support for the BC Farmers’ Market Nutrition Coupon Program, which offers coupons for farmers’ markets to lower-income families, seniors and pregnant women. It is also exploring how it can aid local food producers meet growing demand for their products and anticipates announcing details shortly.
In addition to supporting access to healthy local food, the Trust is helping community organizations address young children’s healthy development and the needs of their families, including developing online workshops for parents and activities for youngsters. Targeted Trust support will also go to colleges in the region so they can assist students experiencing financial hardships.
The pandemic has also highlighted the increased importance of, and demand for, high-speed internet. The Trust will help internet service providers enhance high-speed internet to Basin communities, complementing support recently announced by the provincial government.
These examples add to the support the Trust has already provided to First Nations communities, Métis associations, food banks, housing providers, hospices, licensed child care operators and community social service agencies.
In addition, the Trust is helping small businesses with low-interest loans through its new Small Business Working Capital Loan, plus has increased assistance through several existing programs: Impact Investment Fund, Basin RevUP, Summer Works, Career Internship Program, Basin Business Advisors and Training Fee Support.
To learn more about the Trust’s resources and support during COVID-19, visit ourtrust.org/covid19 or call 1.800.505.8998.