With the recent announcement that Helping Hands Food Bank will close on Friday, Nov. 25, Southeast Alaska Food Bank director Chris Schapp said his food bank is already seeing an increase in numbers of people in need.
“We’ve already seen an uptick in the number of people in our weekly pantry,” Schapp said. “We increased probably 35 to 40 people last week because of that, so we expect things to increase further with winter coming on.”
Southeast Alaska Food Bank will host its 26th annual Caring is Sharing Food Drive from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. on Saturday, Nov. 19 at both Superbear and Foodland IGA stores. According to Schapp, this is the food bank’s largest food drive event of the year and there are multiple ways in which people can get involved.
“We try to restock the warehouse and the store out here so that we can provide healthy, nutritious food to both our 28 member agencies that partner with us and the two food pantries that we hold every week where we average seeing between 250 to 300 people,” Schapp said. “They (people who wish to support the food bank) can either go to the two IGA stores, Superbear and Foodland, or they can go to our website at sealaskafoodbank.org and they can donate or find out which items we need the most there, as well.”
Foodland IGA store director Rick Wilson said that while the event isn’t until Saturday, they’ve already started receiving donations from people who wanted to get an early start on helping out. Wilson said that with the food drive moving last year from Fridays to Saturdays, allowing for more people to participate, organizers saw a significant increase in donations and are anticipating similar volume this year, as well.
“I don’t know the exact number, but probably between 20,000 to 25,000 pounds of food were donated last year,” Wilson said. “Saturday is going to be a big day, they’ll have radio remotes going on, and a little contest between the two stores to see who can raise the most, along with some social media advertising. Most of what gets donated happens on Saturday, so we won’t really know until later in the day if we’re going to approach last year’s numbers or not, but I’m sure the community will jump behind it and help break those records.”
Wison said there are a couple of different ways of helping out. Customers have the option of coming into the store and receiving a suggestion card from the Southeast Food Bank, which suggests items the pantry needs the most t. The more popular option, according to Wilson,is when a customer is checking out at the register, they can tell the cashier that they’d like to purchase as many $10 or $20 donation bags as they’d like.
“The cashier will ring it up and then it keeps track of how many bags we sell during the day and then we take that dollar amount and make sure that the food bank gets the food that they need,” Wilson said. “So, the pantry will tell us they need a pallet of vegetables or whatever and we’ll order it for them so they’ll get exactly what they need.”
In addition to participating in the food drive or making a contribution through the Southeast Food Bank website, Schapp said organizations are also able to hold food drives at their places of business on behalf of the pantry. Schapp added that the food bank is grateful for all of the community’s support throughout the year, and he hopes people can make it out on Saturday.
“There have been a number of different groups here lately who have done food drives for us, so it helps fill the need and we’re always really thankful for that,” Schapp said. “Come on out on Saturday, if you need to do your Thanksgiving Day shopping, it’s a great day to knock that out while the stores are having their specials and then get a little extra for us, as well, if you can.”
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