This past Monday, Dec. 1, some 35 people used the Whistler Food Bank, each taking away a bag of staples and a bag of items they chose from the food bank’s trailer behind the Catholic Church.
The demand is higher than at the start of last season, says food bank coordinator Kari Mancer, but donations made at local grocery stores are also down.
“The people using the food bank are mostly young, they’ve been here a week or a month, they all have housing and jobs,” she said, “but either they haven’t started yet because business has been slow to pick up, or they just started working and are waiting for that first paycheque. Some people are working less hours, and are having trouble making ends meet.
“Our stocks are really low. There were a few more people here than this time last year, but our donations are really low. Usually people chuck cans of soup or pasta into the bins at grocery stores, but a lot less than we usually see at this time of year.”
Mancer says the food bank has to purchase items that are missing, which they can get for discounted rates from local groceries stores. Most of the money for purchasing groceries comes from cash donations and the Whistler Community Services Society, which operates the food bank. While cash donations do go further, Mancer says the donation bins at Nesters, IGA and Creekside markets are crucial for the service. Those grocery stores even have special tags on items that the food banks need.
The demand for food usually calms down around Christmas, when most employees are either working or have given up and moved home. The next day for the food bank is on Dec. 15, although special emergency requests can be made to 604-935-7717.
There are a few fundraisers and food drives underway. The Santa and Family Photo Days are taking place at Nicklaus North on Dec. 6-7 and Dec. 13-14 from 1 p.m. to 3 p.m. Families taking part are asked to bring a non-perishable food item, or make a cash donation. There will be free hot chocolate and fresh baked cookies.
One fundraiser that is sure to generate a lot of food is the annual Trinkets and Treasures gift exchange at Myrtle Philip school on Dec. 12. The event usually raises money for charities as kids donate used books and toys to the sale, and purchase other items for a few dollars. This year the format has been changed, and instead of currency the students will pay for items with canned goods and other items that will be donated to the food bank. Up to 1,000 items of food are expected to be donated.