Chris Shapp, executive director of the Southeast Alaska Food Bank, stands outside the food bank on Feb. 18, 2021 as a van full of food donations arrives. Schapp hopes more donations are in store for Saturday as the food bank holds its annual drive. (Michael S. Lockett / Juneau Empire File)

Chris Shapp, executive director of the Southeast Alaska Food Bank, stands outside the food bank on Feb. 18, 2021 as a van full of food donations arrives. Schapp hopes more donations are in store for Saturday as the food bank holds its annual drive. (Michael S. Lockett / Juneau Empire File)

With demand up, food bank hopes for successful drive

Expect volunteer as local grocery stores on Saturday

Since the pandemic started, need for Southeast Alaska Food Bank’s services has surged.

“It’s been crazy,” said Chris Schapp, executive director for the food bank. “The amount of people showing up at our two pantries every week have essentially doubled since the pandemic.”

That works out to be about 150-190 people in Juneau every week, Schapp said. With over 40 member agencies spread across Southeast Alaska, including in Gustavus, Pelican and Hoonah, the food bank distributed 537,000 pounds of food last year, and Schapp said this year is on pace to meet or exceed that total.

“The food comes in, and then it’s gone off the shelves almost as soon as it comes in,” Schapp said. “The need is greater than it’s ever been.”

Food collection efforts on Saturday for the food bank’s 25th annual food drive will aim to replenish the food bank’s shelves. From 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. the food bank will have a presence at both Foodland IGA and Super Bear IGA to collect food.

“This year’s food drive is a live, in-person actual deal,” Schapp said, adding that last year’s event was held virtually. “This year we’re ramping up for hopefully a huge amount of donations.”

Schapp said that nearly any nonperishable would be helpful, specifically naming canned fruit, canned vegetables, canned proteins, pasta, beans and soup as helpful donations.

Schapp said he understands that many are still understandably wary of group events, and noted crowd-averse people can make donations in a few other ways. That includes dropping off donations from 8 a.m.-1 p.m. at 10020 Crazy Horse Drive, or through making a monetary donation. Information about how to donate is available at https://www.sealaskafoodbank.org/donate/.

• Contact Ben Hohenstatt at (907)308-4895 or bhohenstatt@juneauempire.com. Follow him on Twitter at @BenHohenstatt.

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