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Demands on food bank a sign of the times

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High numbers of hungry seasonal workers are expected to show up at Monday's food bank as shoulder season continues to drag on.

"The kids are waiting around for the jobs to start because the mountain hasn't opened," said Sandra McCarthy, food bank co-ordinator. "They're in a holding pattern right now."

For some of these seasonal workers, shoulder season may go on even longer this year as Intrawest does not plan to bring on its full staff until Dec. 20 – a month later than usual.

But already there are signs the economic slowdown is causing strain. On the first Monday of November this year record numbers of people showed up at the food bank to pick up staples like pasta, spaghetti sauce, cans of tuna and bread.

Of the 137 people who used the food bank, McCarthy says most were young seasonal workers, although there were also some families there.

Traditionally November is one of the busiest months for the food bank because of the shoulder season.

"They use it until they get their jobs and then they're okay. So they're not abusing it," said McCarthy.

The food bank is also busy during the spring/summer shoulder season and this year there were more people than expected in May and June.

It was so popular at that time that the food bank actually ran out of food in the summertime.

The Pemberton Food bank has also been busier than usual this year. In fact it's believed that the numbers using the food bank there have doubled over the past year.

"There's always been a need but people haven't always know about (the food bank)," said Shannan Thompson, the office assistant at Sea to Sky Community Services in Pemberton.

Thompson said the influx of people using the food bank might be attributed to the fact that more people are getting to know about the program in Pemberton.

It is estimated that 35-40 people use the Pemberton food bank each month.

These high numbers in both Whistler and Pemberton make the food drives all the more important at the moment.

"Everything helps right now," said McCarthy.

At the last food drive on Nov. 3, the food bank raised more than two garbage cans worth of food and about $230 in cash.

There will be another food drive on Saturday, Nov. 24 between 3:30 and 6:30 p.m. Volunteers will be collecting canned goods and other non-perishable items at Nesters, IGA and The Grocery Store.

For every other day there are drop off boxes at IGA and Nesters and during the month of November there is a drop off box at The Grocery Store.

The food bank is open for two hours (between 11 a.m. and 1 p.m.) on the first and third Monday of every month. The bank is located behind Our Lady of the Mountains Catholic Church, at the foot of Lorimer Road.

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