Ingrid Meyer, left, founded the Share-A-Meal program, which is heartily supported by businesses like Smitty’s business owner Greg Sehn and employee Tammy Taylor (Kelly Sinoski, 100 Mile Free Press photo).

Share A Meal program draws willing participants

Ingrid Meyer can attest to how generous and caring people are in the 100 Mile House community

.

As an avid volunteer for several different community groups, Meyer has witnessed that kindness firsthand, especially with the Share a Meal program she launched seven years ago, which has tallied $20,000 in donated meal coupons for those in need. Meyer had started the program after she discovered many families and residents in the 100 Mile House area were going hungry.

“I had no idea that we had hungry people in our town, so I started to brainstorm some ways to help,” the 108 Mile Ranch resident explains.

Meyer discovered a program in Vancouver where restaurants paid for extra meals to be given to those in need, but decided she didn’t want the cost to fall on the business owners, who at times can face hardships of their own.

Instead, patrons are given the opportunity to pay a little extra on their dining bill, and that money is converted into a coupon that is accessible to anyone who might need the extra help.

“The most important thing is that nobody is giving cash back, so the restaurant is not paying anything,” Meyer says. “Every dollar counts.”

READ MORE: Sharing meals with hungry folks

The coupons are available to those in need at Axis Family Resources, Canadian Mental Health Association, the Cariboo Family Enrichment Centre and Horton Ventures.

Current participating restaurants include Smitty’s, BJ’s Donuts & Eatery, The Firehouse Diner, GBR, Blue Sky and Rise & Grind.

“The restaurants have been so supportive and have done a great job selling the coupons,” Meyer says, noting that Smitty’s sells upwards of 25 coupons per month.

“We are at $20,000 over the seven years, and all of that revenue stays in our town.”

The past five months, however, have proven challenging for the Share a Meal program; with many residents out of work due to COVID-19 closures, and restaurants also forced to shut their doors for several weeks, fewer coupons have been sold.

“There has been an increase of need but a decrease of people coming in because the restaurants were closed,” Meyer says, noting that her program is not affiliated with the local Food Bank.

Co-ordinating the program is one of several endeavours that keeps Meyer – who moved to the South Cariboo in 2002 – on her toes. She also runs her own small business full time – Ingrid’s Foot Care – and volunteers with several community organizations including the 108 Lions Club, the 108 Mile Ranch Community Association and the 100 Mile & District Historical Society, to name a few.

Her contributions were recognized last year when she was named 108 Mile Citizen of the Year for 2019.

The Share a Meal program is especially close to Meyer’s heart as it allows her to see the generosity and gratitude it inspires throughout the community.

“After 18 years, I still think this is the best community I’ve ever lived in – it’s beautiful, friendly and outgoing and everybody is there to help.”


newsroom@100milefreepress.net

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