A snowpack that is on the verge of setting records has not translated into more visitors or employment for Whistler's most vulnerable workers, and as a result demand at the Whistler Food Bank has remained consistently high through the winter.
The result has been long lines at the Food Bank and some fatigue on the part of volunteers, prompting Whistler Community Services to run a Food Bank every Monday, rather than just the first and third Monday of every month.
"Since springtime of last year we've been fairly busy and that's stayed fairly constant, so we've decided it's getting to be a bit much for the lineups," said Food Bank Coordinator Sara Jennings. "The lines are really long and sometimes you have to wait two hours to get food."
Jennings said the extra days are intended to spread out the demand. They will continue to give two weeks' worth of food to clients, and don't anticipate that they will be giving out more food as a result. The goal is to create shorter lineups and make things easier for volunteers.
There is no system to turn the same people away if they arrive two weeks in a row - and in some cases Jennings said it may be justified - but they will re-evaluate in a few weeks to see how the system is working.
Over the last four months, the Food Bank has fed 1,200 people. The majority, she said, are not regular users but occasional users who rely on the Food Bank "during rough patches."
"We can't speculate as to why there's not a lot of people getting work, but the typical thing is that most people (using the Food Bank) are underemployed, not unemployed; they're only getting one or two shifts a week," said Jennings.
The Food Bank, located at the bottom of Lorimer Road at Our Lady of the Mountains Catholic Church, is now open every Monday from 10 a.m. to noon
With additional days, the Food Bank is looking for volunteers to help out on those additional days, two Mondays a month from 9 a.m. to noon, or noon to 3 p.m. Contact Sara Jennings at 604-935-7717 if you can help out.