John Haley with Share In the Giving, a community aid organization in Sterling, collects food at the Kenai Peninsula Food Bank last week. The group will distribute the food Tuesday.
Photo by M. Scott Moon
The holiday season is a time for giving, as the Kenai Peninsula Food Bank can attest to.
"Our food drives are going very well," said Linda Swarner, executive director.
Swarner said lots of people have been donating food items and that their "Hams for the Holidays" promotion went well.
"Thanks to the effort of KSRM, Harley Davidson, Country Foods and several other individuals, we were able to get well over 100 hams," Swarner said.
With those, the food bank now has more than 171 hams and 141 turkeys in their freezers waiting for agencies to acquire them for holiday festivities.
Some of the food products also will be consumed in meals prepared by the food bank's Soup Kitchen, which served an average of 1,950 diners each month this year.
"We're noticing a lot of people asking for help this year," Swarner said. "A lot of people are laid off from work, some are having financial trouble, and there's been a lot of senior citizens in need, as well."
Through October, the food bank has distributed 576,073 pounds of food to individuals and families through their Soup Kitchen, on-site emergency food boxes and 60-member agencies made up of community nonprofit organizations and churches.
Also, as of December, the food bank has served an average of more than 500 families per month through direct service a 12.3 percent increase over the same time last year.
There also has been a 21 percent increase in the food bank's service to children over the past year; 2,272 seniors are served per month; and the Soup Kitchen serves an average weekly crowd of 235.
Swarner said all of that would not be possible without community support.
"We live in a wonderful, caring, compassionate community that reaches out to people in need. Often, we don't even have to ask for things, they just show up, and we want to thank everyone for their monetary and nonmonetary donations," she said.
The food bank's next food drive is in conjunction with the Blood Bank of Alaska from noon to 6 p.m. Wednesday at the Peninsula Center Mall.
Donations also can be made at Alaska Federal Credit Union, Country Foods, Alaska National Guard-Kenai Armory, Era Aviation, the Kenai and Soldotna branches of First National Bank of Anchorage, Fred Meyer, Key Bank in Kenai, Sav-U-More, Three Bears and Kenai and Soldotna branches of Wells Fargo. At Kenai and Soldotna Safeways, the purchase of a turkey can be added to your bill by telling the cashier it is for the food bank.
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