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SLRD donates $17,500 to Squamish food bank

The regional district also donated the same amount to food banks in Lillooet, Pemberton and Whistler.

The Squamish-Lillooet Regional District is opening up its wallet to food banks in Squamish,  Pemberton and Lillooet.

Each of the four food banks will receive a one-time contribution of $17,500 to assist with operations for the winter of 2021 to 2022.

On Nov. 24, the SLRD board voted unanimously to provide a one-time contribution to the organizations using a portion of the COVID-19 Restart funds it received from the provincial government.

“Food banks provide such an important service in our communities, and the COVID-19 pandemic has exacerbated that need,” said SLRD board chair Jen Ford in a news release. “Individuals and families in each of our communities are facing increased food insecurity and we know that monetary contributions go a long way in helping to address this need.”

In Squamish, that news was well-received.

"We are so grateful for this generous contribution from the SLRD,” said Mariana Borsuk-Gudz, program manager for the Squamish Food Bank in the news release. 

“The $17,500 will allow us to provide a significant amount of support to our local community who may live with ongoing food insecurity. In partnership with Squamish Helping Hands, the Food Hub works to support nearly 400 individuals on a monthly basis, and sees over 1,000 to our Market — a dignified, low-barrier food access space. We serve nearly 3,000 meals out of our Community Kitchen, and are committed to furthering food access and food justice in our community. This kind donation will certainly go a long way in supporting us in this mission."

In Lillooet, the food bank is operated by the Lillooet Friendship Centre Society (LFCS), and demand has increased there since the pandemic, the release said.

“Each food bank is supporting more clients in this challenging time and this funding will go a long way in assisting food banks in being able to continue ensuring those that need food and support are able to receive those services,” said Carol Camille, LFCS executive director, in the announcement.

Jaye Russell, executive director with the Sea to Sky Community Services Society (SSCS), which operates the Pemberton Food Bank, said in the release that demand at food banks throughout the region has seen an unprecedented surge since the onset of the pandemic.

“Our food banks are always busy, there is always a demand,” said Russell. “But with COVID-19, the demand has been far greater than ever before. We are seeing more and more families in need of assistance” she said. 

“We are very grateful to the SLRD for their work, not only in helping to raise awareness about food insecurity and the local need, but for this generous contribution that will help so many people, in all of the communities in the region.”

In Whistler, the situation is the same, with the Whistler Community Services Society (WCSS)-operated food bank seeing massive demand, according to the release.

“This is news that truly lifts our hearts and supports our communities,” said Jackie Dickinson, WCSS executive director, in the announcement. “Demand for services at the Whistler Food Bank has remained high throughout the summer and fall of 2021; averaging 2-3 times the number of clients served when compared to pre-pandemic days. Food insecurity is prevalent throughout the corridor, but we know we can help all those who need assistance when we work together like this. We are so grateful for the support of the SLRD in this initiative.”

In 2020, the SLRD worked with SSCS to launch the Feed the Need campaign, which has raised over $70,000 for local food banks.

The initiative continues, and through the landing page, donors can direct their contributions to a specific food bank, or the regional food bank fund.