Swarner to take charge of peninsula food bank

Posted: Friday, March 28, 2003

The face in charge of running the Kenai Peninsula Food Bank will change Tuesday, but the level of dedication in the person filling that position will stay the same.

Kenai resident Linda Swarner has been chosen by the food bank's board of directors to succeed Peggy Moore as executive director.

Swarner has lived on the peninsula since 1975 and has been a member of the Kenai City Council since 1987. She has a bachelor's degree in business administration from the University of Alaska Southeast. Among other involvements, she is a member of the Alaska Municipal League and performs mission projects at the Star of the North Lutheran Church.

She applied for the position out of her drive for volunteering

"It's a very good organization that helps the residents of the entire Kenai Peninsula and I've always been involved with some kind of volunteer commitment to the community that I live in and I always want to help people," Swarner said.

Moore expects Swarner will be a good addition to the food bank.

"She has some excellent qualifications," she said. "I think she's going to do a really, really good job. They're fortunate to have her."

Moore and Swarner have been working together to make the transition go as smoothly as possible. None of the upcoming food bank events are expected to be disrupted by the change in leadership.

"(Moore) has been very helpful with all my questions before I was actually hired and especially after I was hired in giving me information regarding the financial status and day-to-day work of the food bank," Swarner said. "And all the employees have been great, and the board of directors, and the community with all the congratulations."

The executive director's position has been filled almost continuously by Moore since October 1998. Now she is resigning to move to Homer with her husband, Tim, to be closer to the commercial salmon fishing operation they run from June to September.

"I'm really going to miss everybody, it's going to be so hard to leave here," she said.

In her time as executive director, Moore discovered that caring about the job is key to being successful.

"I think the most important qualification is to have a passion for what you're doing, to really care about the people we serve and understand the issues associated with hunger in our community."

Swarner shares that passion and concern for the peninsula community.

"I would like to make the residents of the Kenai Peninsula more aware of the hunger (experienced) by their neighbors and that if we all work together, everyone can be served with the dignity that they have plenty to eat."

When Swarner takes over the executive director position Tuesday, she expects to be kept busy settling in and familiarizing herself with the food bank's operations.

Moore has several things she'd like to see the food bank accomplish in the future.

"Ideally, I'd like the food bank to be out of business, (where) we would not have any hungry people here on the peninsula -- but we live in the real world," she said. "Realistically, my hope would be to increase awareness in our community and be able to continue to build on the funding base we have."

Moore also hopes the food bank will work more closely with its member agencies to better serve individuals in need throughout the peninsula and be able to keep up with the growing demand for food. In 1998, the food bank distributed 13.4 pounds of food per person, Moore said. In 2002, that amount was down to 8.6 pounds of food per person (which is about nine cans of food), yet the food bank had over three times as many clients in 2002 as it did in 1998.

These are challenges Swarner will now face in her position. She said she welcomes any questions, comments or suggestions from the community, and is anticipating getting started.

"I'm looking very forward to it, because I think it's a great way to serve the community and I look at myself as a public servant as a council person," she said. "I've always been a person who wants to make a difference in the world."

There will be a public reception to say goodbye to Moore and meet Swarner in her new position from 4 to 6 p.m. April 4 at the food bank.

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