Fresh produce and bread were on hand at the Southeast Alaska Food Bank on Crazy Horse Drive on Tuesday, Oct. 15, 2019. (Michael Penn | Juneau Empire File)

Fresh produce and bread were on hand at the Southeast Alaska Food Bank on Crazy Horse Drive on Tuesday, Oct. 15, 2019. (Michael Penn | Juneau Empire File)

Juneau Community Foundation digs in to shore up food bank

Supplies are running low.

As unemployment across the country hits record highs and the economy sours in many sectors, the need for food banks is greater than ever.

The Juneau Community Foundation is one organization working to support the community as the world deals with the spread of the coronavirus and its secondary and tertiary effects, such as mass hour reductions and widespread layoffs. They’ve created the 2020 Food Assistance Fund-COVID-19 in partnership with the Southeast Alaska Food Bank.

“The food bank reached out to us and we were happy to fill a need and assist them,” said JCF executive director Amy Skilbred. “Talking to them they said they’ve never seen this many donations in this short a time period. The community really stepped up.”

The division of labor is meant to increase donations to the food bank as growing demand for food and operation constraints put in place to limit the chances of spreading contagion make more work for the volunteers of the food bank, Skilbred said in a phone interview.

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“By establishing this fund, the foundation is helping the food bank raise money and handling the related administrative work on their behalf so that the Food Bank can focus their limited time and resources on food collection and disbursement to those in need,” Skilbred said.

She said the JCF had been able to donate about $30,000 to the food bank in addition to $25,000 in donations that the food bank had received directly.

“We’ve never been in a situation like this as a community, as a state, as a country,” Skilbred said. “We’re trying to figure out what that means right now, and in the medium term, and in the long term.”

Changes in the operations for the food bank include boxing up foods for individuals, instead of allowing people to wander inside the facility itself, to limit chances of cross-contamination, Skilbred said. Food bank personnel are also boxing food for distribution to their 34 partner organizations. Bulk food orders from the food bank are up, Skilbred said, and the food bank is looking at other changes to their operating procedures to better serve the public as it faces crisis.

“The big good news is that people really stepped up,” Skilbred said. “It’s a steady stream of donations. And this is just one area in which the community has helped out.”

To help out

Go to the JCF website at Juneaucf.org to donate directly. Food donations should be left at the food bank itself, located at 10020 Crazy Horse Drive. High-demand items that the food bank always needs include tuna fish, chili, macaroni and cheese, top ramen, cereal, soups, canned fruits vegetables, pastas and noodles and spaghetti sauce.

• Contact reporter Michael S. Lockett at 757.621.1197 or mlockett@juneauempire.com.

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