Food for thought in tough times

By Diana Jeska

When finances are problematic, food is the first to suffer attention. That’s where we at the Homer Community Food Pantry come in. At least one third of clients receiving food relief in Alaska report having to choose between paying for food and paying for utilities or fuel.
Hungry people are high school and college graduates; they live with children and seniors. Many own their own homes and have jobs. Some are disabled or homeless, while others just need a little help while they try to make ends meet. Illness, surgery, job hour cutbacks, or extra dependents can throw anyone into a financial spin.
Our Food Pantry is one of 63 member agencies of the Kenai Peninsula Food Bank in Soldotna. They get their food from Food Bank of Alaska in Anchorage, which supplies food to a total of five food banks, (Fairbanks, Kodiak, Kenai, Juneau and Anchorage.) Food banks distribute to food pantries, who purchase at a nominal fee from their local food bank.
2008 was a great year with Homer’s generous support in our food drives, financial contributions and fundraiser support.

Food Pantry Facts for 2008:

• We served 30,200 adults and children; an average of 580 a week and increase of 17 percent from 2007. Remember we are open every Monday and clients can come every one of them for food.
• We bought 19,342 pounds of food for $3581.50 from KFB last year.
• 54 percent of our finances come from our own community, 22 percent from fundraisers and 24 percent from grants.
• We provided 4,685 prepared meals to clients on 52 Mondays. Each week, we provided snacks, breakfast food and lunch items to four local schools to about 120 students during the school year.
• Food items for other nonprofits, such as Haven House, Refuge, NAMI, Public Health and Community Mental Health, are provided to serve the need of Homer.
• Food box delivery was provided to about 35 families, including Ninilchik and across the Bay in Nanwalek, Port Graham and Seldovia.
• On a monthly basis, we deliver 76 CFSP food boxes (a federal food commodity program) to low-income seniors, pregnant women and children under the age of six who are not on WIC.
• We spent an average of $920 per month purchasing food for clients; an increase of 26 percent. About one-fourth of our food was one-to-one from our community of Homer.
• The majority of our food comes from Safeway, Sav-U-More and South Peninsula Hospital. We get food occasionally from Kachemak Warehouse, Smokey Bay Foods, Duncan House, K-Bay Coffee, Subway and the Senior Center. Alaska Gourmet Batter has recently joined us to serve the community.
• A "satellite" food pantry now operates out of the Anchor Point Nazarene Church and distributes food boxes on Monday evenings, as well as serving a soup supper to 35 families.
HCFP and Anchor Point pantries operate solely through the generously donated time of many volunteers. More than 14,500 volunteer hours were logged last year. HCFP is a nonprofit 501-(c) (3) organization. It has been in operation for the past 18 years, providing food to anyone in need.
We invite your participation and questions. Join a working committee or help run a fundraiser. Yes, our numbers are increasing; 777 families were given food boxes in January. We are seeing new faces and more families. January and February are historically difficult months.
We are co-laborers in the effort to serve our community and we want you to know that we could not do this without your help. We are in this together, and together we can help to meet the needs of those in our community.  "It’s a beautiful thing" to watch our neighbors come through the door with words of encouragement and food for others.
Great job, Homer.

Diana Jeska has served as manager of the Homer Community Food Pantry for several years and volunteers much of her time helping out those in need in the community.

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Posted by on Mar 4th, 2009 and filed under Bay View. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. Both comments and pings are currently closed.

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