Whistlerites are hungry. That ought to be the message from a figure showing that visits to the community food bank are four times higher than the national average.
Whistler Community Services Society logged 1,216 visits to the Whistler Food Bank in 2009, 86 of which were for children. Taking into account Whistler's population of 12,239 (including the average transient population), the percentage of visits is roughly 9.9 per cent, compared to a national average of 2.4 per cent.
The figures come alongside an upward trend in food bank visits across the country. Throughout Canada there was a rise of 18 per cent, while in Whistler food bank visits rose by 57 per cent.
On the flipside, a recent news release from Whistler Community Services Society (WCSS) indicates the Whistler Food Bank is generally well stocked. A $10,000 donation from the Whistler Blackcomb Foundation helped secure funding for the program and other businesses donated funds and organized food drives to keep the bank stocked through the winter.
The Whistler Food Bank, according to the WCSS news release, has users whose main source of income is pensions, disability-related income and support, as well as social assistance. Those users make up about 86 per cent of the food bank's clientele.
The rest are users that are members of Whistler's workforce. WCSS notes that most food bank users are underemployed and a small percentage of them depend on some kind of social assistance. Many cite lowered or reduced working hours as their reason for using the food bank, while others have employment restrictions with work visas, or are ill/injured and unable to work.
People usually use the food bank one to five times to get them through a difficult time. The mandate of a food bank is to keep people fed and to turn away no one.
WCSS will be hosting a Family Dinner on June 1 to support Hunger Awareness Day, an annual event that makes people aware of the global issue of hunger. The dinner will take place Tuesday, June 1 at the Spruce Grove Field House. Attendants are asked to bring a non-perishable food item or small cash donation.