By 1 p.m. Wednesday, the end of the two-hour Mobile Food Bank visit to the Soldotna United Methodist Church, all that was left was some green onions, pet food, milk, bread and a few loose fruits and vegetables.
Bonnie Miller, food donor coordinator with the Kenai Peninsula Food Bank Inc., and her volunteer from the church, Sandy Sandoval, had started the day with 400 pounds of food. Even with minimal advertising, Miller said there was a line at the church when she arrived with her refrigerated van.
“As the word gets out, more people are coming (to the mobile food bank),” Sandoval said.
July was the third month of the mobile food bank. Miller was in Soldotna Wednesday and at North Star United Methodist Church in Nikiski Thursday with the refrigerated van.
“So far it’s been well-received and really successful, I think,” Miller said.
Miller is scheduled to run the mobile bank through October, after which, the food bank will evaluate the program.
Miller said the food bank received more produce this month from donors — Kenai and Soldotna Safeways, Wal-Mart, Fred Meyer and Peterkin Distributors Inc. The food bank also has its own garden and gets produce from farmer’s market vendors.
“I just think it’s very exciting. This produce … it’s enabling people to eat healthy and local,” Miller said.
The first thing to go in Soldotna Wednesday was the celery. It was really fresh and crisp, and the mobile bank hadn’t had it before, Miller said.
She also had cat and dog food for the first time.
Miller served 82 people in Soldotna and 70 in Nikiski.
Miller said the first week she setup the mobile food bank at the churches — which are food pantry locations — people were “pretty excited” to see her with produce when they came to pick up their monthly boxes that contain mostly shelf-stable items.
The food bank has a partnership with the two churches that if they have food left, the food pantry can accept it give to people.
The funding for the refrigerated van was from a grant from Ford Motor Company and the Newman’s Own Foundation, Miller said.
In August, Miller is adding the Abundant Life Church in Sterling to her list of stops. She hopes to add a Kenai location as well. However, it’s up to the site partners to recruit volunteers to assist with the mobile bank.
Miller said unless the food bank receives more food donations, the mobile food bank will continue on a once-a-month basis with a maximum of four locations.
Kaylee Osowski can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.