When Miguel and Maria Reyes started Carmen’s Kitchen, a local eatery in Bingen, Washington, they had never heard of the American staples, biscuits and gravy and country fried steak. “We had no idea what these dishes were, but we did our best to learn them and serve them up to customers,” says the Reyes. “Now, they are the most popular items on our menu!”

When shutdown orders halted their business however, their kitchen went dark. “For many months, we were shut down due to COVID-19,” says Miguel. “It was very hard on us and our employees.”

Yet helping those who also have been placed in a challenging situation is what the Reye’s are doing now. Excited to be a partner with Columbia Bank’s Pass It On Project, Carmen’s Kitchen is providing free meals to firefighters in their community and Columbia Bank is paying the bill. “Not only do we have the pandemic, but there have been terrible fires in our state. With Columbia Bank picking up the bill, we hope to provide these heroes with good food to keep them going.”