Posted on May 21, 2024
Hundreds of children and youth in four elementary schools and one high school in Whistler, BC, who were arriving at school without adequate good food to sustain them through the day are benefitting from a Children's Lunch Program. Whistler Community Services Society, which has been serving the local community for 35 years, provides the program to the schools. 

The Society identified the need for additional refrigeration to support the school lunch program and two others – Food Rescue and Outreach -- with safe delivery and storage of perishable food, and Rotary stepped in to help the Society to co-fund the school program, in conjunction with Breakfast Club of Canada. With support of a District Grant of $3,000 from The Rotary Foundation Whistler Rotary covered the cost of the equipment as a way to contribute to the wellbeing and nutrition of local youth and children in schools.
Since 2017 Whistler Rotarians had already been involved in the preparation of the lunches for the school food program. They made personal donations, matched by the club, and started fundraising at the start of the Covid-19 pandemic, to add to the challenge, when community services were coming under extreme stress.
The fundraisers included Zoom-based cocktail-making parties and an artistic painting instruction parties. They also generated funds from sales of specific frozen foods, (lasagna, quiche and salmon pate), made by a professional chef at Daniel's Kitchen as a friend of the Rotary Club of Whistler. Many friends of the Rotary Club also provided individual donations. Throughout the project 25 Rotarians were involved making it a success.
With this new refrigeration equipment, the Society can not only run its School Lunch Program more effectively it can also run two other programs: Food Insecurity and Food Rescue & Outreach. The equipment has increased its capacity to rescue perishable food and receive more food donations than in past.

Whistler Community Services Society
The Whistler Community Services Society belongs to a Food Hub, operated by Food Banks BC in Chilliwack, to provide pallets of free food to food banks which need storage before distribution. The refrigerated storage unit has reduced food supply costs, increased food safety standards as well as accessibility of the food-related programs in the community and facilitated increased collaboration through resource sharing with neighbouring communities.
The Society also provides a variety of confidential social support and services to the community through programs addressing mental health, financial insecurity, advocacy, physical health and injury, housing, substance use, employment, parenting support, family/friend relationships and violence/conflict relationships.
Executive Director of Whistler Community Services Society Jackie Dickinson says: "We are incredibly grateful to the Rotary Club of Whistler for their generous support of programs aimed at alleviating hunger throughout our community. Their donation towards the purchase of a new fridge has  significantly enhanced our storage capacity and food recovery efforts. Most importantly, it ensures that more children have full bellies during their school day, warmer hearts, and contribute to a healthier community overall.
"Meeting people's basic needs is fundamental to creating a healthy and safe community. We are confident that this investment in food insecurity programs like ours will ensure children's hunger needs are met, leading to better academic performance and healthier relationships with their peers and the broader community."