Burger bargain could help food bank stock shelves 

Businesses considering a 1-cent pledge for every McDonald’s burger sold in Whistler


Whistler McDonald’s sold more than 32,000 burgers over 11 days to celebrate the store’s 11 th anniversary, but now that the ketchup has settled some people who want to use what has become an event to stimulate community action.

Whistler McDonald’s sold 32,551 burgers in the first 11 days of November, and in light of these figures there are some initiatives taking shape that could have other long-term benefits for the community.

Talk began last week when Tom Horler, the owner of the Whistler McDonald’s, sent an e-mail to some people about the "unbelievable" results of his burger campaign. Dave Davenport, a director with the Chamber of Commerce, replied with an idea that has enormous potential for helping people at what is often a difficult time of year.

Davenport said he would be endeavouring to convince the chamber and a number of businesses to contribute one cent to the Whistler food bank for every burger the Whistler McDonald’s sells during its 12th anniversary celebrations next year. The money could go to stock the food bank, which is run by the Whistler Community Services Society, and possibly help fund a permanent facility. The food bank is currently run out of an old trailer behind the Catholic Church.

Davenport hasn’t floated the idea at a Chamber of Commerce board meeting, so the idea could be stopped in its tracks or there might be a number of changes made before a plan is implemented. But the big picture behind Davenport’s idea is to get the business community to support a very popular precedent, which has pleased thousands of people, many of whom are short on money at this time of year.

"Lets take what (Horler’s) done and turn it into something broader," said Davenport. "By October of next year if we could get businesses pledging one cent for every burger that’s sold, that’d be $325 each based on this year, which is a lot of money for food and it’s kind of a fun way to do it.

"My view of the food bank and social services is that cash can be very, very helpful and I think most businesses are very supportive of the food bank and other social services," he said. "If we go to our 800 members of the Chamber, imagine what we could do just getting 10 per cent to commit."

Last year, to celebrate his 10th anniversary in business in Whistler, Horler offered McDonald’s burgers for 10 cents each for the first 10 days of November. This year the deal was upped by a penny and a day.

But McDonald’s has its critics, and in the wake of movies such as Super Size Me some people might see a food bank promotion tied to the burger chain as a conflict in values. Horler said this view was understandable, but it missed the point.

"I don’t feel comfortable at all with people thinking that this was just a McDonald’s promotion that gave us some extra sales, because that's not the case," said Horler. "The bigger thing is not so much our expectations, but it’s versus last year. If we sold 17,400 last year why did we sell almost 100 per cent more this year?

"Had we sold 20,000-22,000 hamburgers then we might have just been able to consider this as a nice community campaign, but 33,000 burgers was way beyond our expectations. I think there is something bigger going on here.

"This is only a little bit of the solution that McDonald’s can bring to the table and that is to provide them (the influx of seasonal workers) with an affordable alternative to Kraft Dinner."

Horler said if the business community did decide to pledge money then he would forward the food bank some of the money at the start of November, before his burger campaign started.

"I understand that not all businesses can do this kind of thing, but through

Dave’s idea now businesses could get involved. Wouldn’t it be terrific when the season comes around again and the Food Bank has an idea of how much money they will have?"

Food Bank co-ordinator Sandra McCarthy was excited when told about the concept of using the McDonald’s campaign to stock the shelves.

"Ooh wow, great, awesome, that’s really a good idea," said McCarthy. "I really hope it happens.

"And we would just love that (to get a permanent structure)."

Several business owners in Whistler have said they would also support the idea. Fiona Minton, co-owner of Ingrid’s Village Café, said the plan was a "super good idea" that should get businesses talking.

"I think there are other options, but I think it would be best if we directed the money towards the food bank rather than have discounts for food around the village," said Minton. "Because you want the food to be getting to the people who need it most and that’s what’s the food bank’s for."

Should anyone in the community want to contribute ideas or support Davenport’s plan to use McDonald’s to donate to the food bank they can contact him at 604-935-2011.

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