Laura Martinson, owner of Caribou Crossings downtown and her 4-year old daughter, Olivia McDonnell, deliver food to the Southeast Alaska Food Bank. (Courtesy photo/Laura Martinson)

Food drive focuses on kid favorites

Food bank exec: ‘More need remains’

Feeding young children can be difficult as many have very particular flavor preferences. For families who rely on food banks, finding items their kids enjoy can add to the challenge.

Laura Martinson, the owner of Caribou Crossings downtown and the mother of 4-year old Olivia McDonnell, set out to make the task easier for families by organizing a food drive dedicated to collecting kid favorites.

“Our food drive was a blast,” Martinson said in an email to the Empire early this week.

Martinson said that customers of the store and students at The Discovery Preschool, along with their families, worked together to gather foods that would please the average kid.

Using the store as a collection point, donations of raisins, chocolate milk, applesauce, pasta, macaroni and cheese boxes, flavored oatmeal packets and cans of chicken noodle soup all rolled in.

Martinson said the collective efforts generated 415 pounds of food that she delivered to the Southeast Alaska Food Bank.

According to Chris Schapp, executive director of Southeast Alaska Food Bank, the donations from Martinson’s efforts–and other local food drives and community efforts–made a difference.

However, more need remains, he said.

[Health officials push vaccines, boosters to combat variant]

“We need everything from baby food to kid food to shelf-stable food. Last month alone we gave out 30,000 lbs of food in November. It’s all driven by need,” Schapp said in a Friday afternoon phone interview.

Schapp said he’s seen a 100% increase in public food pantry participation lately.

“Before the recent food drives, our shelves were empty,” he said. “People who put on independent food drives are extremely helpful,” Schapp said.

Volunteers collected food on Saturday, Nov. 20. It was a return to an in-person version of the annual drive after the pandemic forced the 2020 iteration to be a virtual event.

In total, 22,200 pounds of food was collected outside Super Bear IGA and Foodland IGA grocery stores, according to the food bank.

[Small businesses still struggling due to pandemic’s effect on travel]

In addition, Schapp said that community members are in need of pet food and a collection effort will take place next week. He said donations can be dropped off at Petco, the Southeast Alaska Medical Center, located at 8232 Glacier Highway, or the Southeast Alaska Food Bank at 10020 Crazy Horse Drive.

• Contact reporter Dana Zigmund at or 907-308-4891. Ben Hohenstatt contributed reporting to this article.

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