Whistler Food bank demand decreasing 

Squamish and Pemberton seeing increasing need for food bank assistance

click to enlarge FILE PHOTO - nutrition needs The food bank in Whistler is seeing fewer people, while demand for food-bank help in Squamish and Pemberton is rising.
  • file photo
  • nutrition needs The food bank in Whistler is seeing fewer people, while demand for food-bank help in Squamish and Pemberton is rising.

The number of people relying on the food banks in Pemberton and Squamish is rising, but in Whistler pressure on the food bank is easing.

The most likely cause for the situation in Whistler, said Sara Jennings, the food bank coordinator in Whistler, is the stabilization of the resort economy.

"The resort is recovering, basically," said Jennings.

Food-bank reliance in Whistler spiked after 2008, but as the international economic climate has improved, so has the situation in Whistler, said Jennings.

The number of people served at the Whistler food bank this year in the month of March is down slightly from the same period last year.

Meanwhile, Louise Stacey-Deegan, the food bank coordinator in Pemberton, has seen an increase of about 10 per cent in demand for food bank services.

"We're really busy," said Stacey-Deegan. "The last couple of months have been really busy."

She said there are more families than usual showing up for help on distribution days.

"There are some new faces, but mainly just the people that come on a regular basis," Stacey-Deegan said.

Squamish has a similar situation. According to Squamish Food Bank president Lorna Van Straaten, the number of people who needed help from the food bank at this time last year was 130. The most recent food bank distribution day in Squamish attracted 150 people in need of food.

"We are getting a little nervous because we've cut into our extras now," Van Straaten said of the additional demand.

"It's the same problems. Things like people on disability, unemployment and underemployment. They are employed but they aren't getting enough hours at their job."

Van Straaten said the people in need in Squamish range from young children to senior citizens.

"The number of kids keeps climbing," said Van Straaten.

The three food banks are accepting donations of cash and food. The Pemberton food bank is accepting food donations at the Pemberton Library and the Pemberton Valley Supermarket. Donations of cash for the Squamish food bank can be made online at squamishfoodbank.com, plus the grocery stores in Squamish all have food bank donation bins.

The Whistler Food Bank also accepts donations at its Whistler Community Services website, and all the major grocery stores in Whistler have food donation boxes.

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