With more mouths to feed as the social and financial effects of the COVID-19 crisis continue to ripple, the Whistler Food Bank is looking for additional donations.
In a release earlier this week, the Whistler Community Services Society (WCSS) detailed the increased demand, noting that it is looking for donations of both cash and food to help serve more people.
While monetary donations (which can be made online at https://mywcss.org/get-involved/donations) go a longer way, as the food bank receives wholesale prices, those looking to drop off food should bring most-needed items such as:
• protein-rich canned food such as tuna, salmon, meat, beans and legumes;
• canned vegetables and fruit;
• canned soups;
• cereal and granola bars;
• dried beans and legumes;
• peanut butter; and
• rice, pasta and pasta sauce.
WCSS interim executive director Lori Pyne said on March 20 that, in particular, the food bank is low on food that is high in protein such as canned fish and meat, as well as nut and seed butters.
Donation bins are available at all Whistler grocery stores, which is where Pyne would prefer to see people donate, as it minimizes contact with their own staff, while it also means members of the public don't have to go to any additional locations to help out.
While donations have been "steady," the food bank is facing added pressure, Pyne said. In addition to a 30-per-cent increase in demand, the food bank's regular supplies have not arrived on schedule and there's no timeline for when they might show up. Compounding the food bank's challenges is that several of the most-needed items are generally among the first items members of the public are stocking up on.
"What's tricky is the things we need for the food bank are the things that households need, so all the staples," she said. "It's the things people are hoarding, quite frankly.
"We're confident there's enough supply, it's just the distribution of the supply. Because everyone is double-buying things, they're having to distribute it doubly as fast and that's just logistically impossible."
Business owners looking to make bulk donations can contact firstname.lastname@example.org.
In other WCSS news, the Re-Use-It Centre and Re-Build-It Centre are temporarily closed. As well, the Re-Use-It Centre is not accepting donations at this time. Those who are leaving town can drop gently used clothing and household items in the bins at the Re-Build-It Centre in Function Junction, while locals are encouraged to hang on to their donations for a later time.
Those looking to access WCSS outreach services can call 604-932-0113 or make an online booking through mywcss.org. Outreach workers and frontline staff can "advocate for the community's wellness needs and direct clients to a range of social and financial services," according to a release.
"We're seeing really good uptake on the outreach services we're offering. It's support for community members that have lost a job, or are feeling lonely, or can't get home," Pyne said. "We're doing all our services via telephone or video conference, and we have outreachers out in the community, in the village, just making sure that we're connecting with the vulnerable people that don't even have phones."
Pyne credited the WCSS staff for the hard work it's been doing in these particularly busy and challenging times.