Due to long lines and short supplies, Southeast Alaska Food Bank is asking for help to continue providing food to hungry families.
“Last week we saw 283 people needing assistance between the two pantries,” said Southeast Alaska Food Bank director Chris Schapp. “That was the most we’ve seen since March as far as a single week is concerned.
The Feeding America network recognizes the month of September as Hunger Action Month, which is an annual nationwide campaign designed to educate and inspire people to take action and raise awareness of hunger throughout the United States. As a partnering distribution organization of the network, Southeast Alaska Food Bank is encouraging any and all groups within the Juneau area to consider sponsoring a food drive to help support the food bank as their demands continue to increase.
According to Schapp, it’s becoming harder to get the various food items in stock to resupply the food bank’s shelves, with many of the orders taking longer than a month to arrive. In addition, Schapp said the rise in food costs has also caused a decrease in the food bank’s buying power.
“We can always use the help, so whatever people can do now to lend a hand and offer assistance is greatly appreciated. All of our agencies are still relying heavily on us to come in and get food for their organizations. There are a lot of folks out in the community that need our help.”
Brad Perkins, a pastor with the Resurrection Lutheran Church, said the church is one of the largest food pantries in Juneau and along with that they’re one of Southeast Alaska Food Bank’s biggest customers. Perkins said that within the last month and a half they’ve seen an increase of 50% of people utilizing their Monday food pantry and they’re now feeding well over 200 people a week.
“The shortage is affecting us tremendously because while we get some donations from church members and the community, we rely virtually entirely on Southeast Alaska Food Bank,” Perkins said. “They’re able to give us far less food than they have in the past, so it’s really a problem, we’re running out of food well before all of the people show up and we’re offering far less than we used to. We also have a limited budget for all of this and the food bank has been forced to raise its rates which impacts our ability to purchase food from them. We don’t exactly know what we’re going to do, we see people come in that are just really suffering from food scarcity and they need food from us and we don’t know what to tell them.”
Schapp said that at this time they’re hoping for donations to help them get through to November when they’ll host their annual Sharing is Caring food drive at both IGA stores on the Saturday before Thanksgiving, which Schapp said is their biggest food drive of the year.
The Juneau Community Foundation’s Douglas-Dornan Foundation Fund recently awarded grants to 13 different Southeast Alaska nonprofits, Southeast Alaska Food Bank being one of them. Shapp said they received a $2500 grant from the foundation and while it’s helpful and greatly appreciated, it’s still not quite enough to keep up with the ever-growing demand they’re seeing on a weekly basis.
People who would like to hold a food drive but need help organizing one can contact the food bank for assistance, Schapp said, especially if they need supplies picked up afterwards. Additionally, the food bank’s website offers a list of the most needed items, including:
■ Tuna fish
■ Mac and cheese
■ Top Ramen
■ Generic cereal
■ Canned corn
■ Canned peas
■ Canned chicken
■ Mixed vegetables
■ Diced tomatoes
■ Tomato sauce
■ Spaghetti sauce
■ Canned fruits
■ Peanut butter
Southeast Food Bank’s pantry is open at 1:30-3 p.m. on Tuesdays and 4-5:30 p.m. on Thursdays.