Jesse Lamm, Coltin Yancey and Chef Stephen Lamm plate and serve the Thanksgiving meal at the Kenai Peninsula Food Bank in Soldotna, Alaska, on Wednesday, Nov. 22, 2023. (Jake Dye/Peninsula Clarion)

Jesse Lamm, Coltin Yancey and Chef Stephen Lamm plate and serve the Thanksgiving meal at the Kenai Peninsula Food Bank in Soldotna, Alaska, on Wednesday, Nov. 22, 2023. (Jake Dye/Peninsula Clarion)

‘A day to be thankful’

Thanksgiving at the food bank is a community celebration

The Kenai Peninsula Food Bank’s Fireweed Diner on Wednesday was packed with visitors partaking in its annual Thanksgiving meal, tables covered in plates of turkey, mashed potatoes, stuffing, cranberry sauce and bread.

Greg Meyer, executive director of the food bank, said that this year’s dinner had seemed a daunting challenge six weeks ago. The food bank has regularly described increased demand since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, compounded by rising food costs.

Everything “pulled together” this year, he said, crediting an outpouring of community support.

“Since the pandemic we have relied on the community constantly,” Meyer said. “They keep stepping up and making it happen.”

The food bank’s “Adopt-A-Turkey” fundraiser, which had sought to cover the costs of 1,200 turkeys by the end of the month, has surpassed its goal and on Wednesday reached nearly 1,400. Those donations came from individual donors, community organizations, and sponsors including Hilcorp, Marathon, FRCH Rentals and Heaverley Homes — Jack White Real Estate.

Of course, there’s more to a Thanksgiving dinner than just turkey, and Meyer said support from the community stretched to every part of the meal served Wednesday. That support will also reach around the Kenai Peninsula during this holiday season.

“It really is a day to be grateful,” Meyer said. “We love the fact that we can provide a meal here for anybody who wants to come — to feel like you belong and be around some other folks for a while.”

The annual meal at the food bank is an opportunity to celebrate the holiday with the local community, Meyer said. Holding it at the food bank, and the day before Thanksgiving proper, is to give people another opportunity to get out and be a part of something.

“That’s what we’re here for,” Meyer said. “It’s kind of like inviting a bunch of our neighbors in for a Thanksgiving meal with our family.”

Donations and Communications Manager Lilly Murray said that Thanksgiving at the food bank reaches community far beyond just the immediate central peninsula. Even as people and volunteers gathered together at the food bank on Thursday — with some volunteers coming from as far away as Cooper Landing — turkeys from the food bank were spread across the Kenai Peninsula to partner agencies and ultimately Thanksgiving dinner tables.

Meyer said turkeys from the food bank were in Kenai, Soldotna, Cooper Landing, Hope, Seward, Anchor Point, Homer, Nanwalek, Port Graham and Tyonek.

The Kenai Peninsula Food Bank will similarly recognize Christmas with a meal in the diner, scheduled for Dec. 22 from 11:30 a.m. to 1 p.m.

For more information about the Kenai Peninsula Food Bank, visit kpfoodbank.org or find them on Facebook.

Reach reporter Jake Dye at jacob.dye@peninsulaclarion.com.

Mark Keel, Coltin Yancey and Chef Stephen Lamm plate and serve the Thanksgiving meal at the Kenai Peninsula Food Bank in Soldotna, Alaska, on Wednesday, Nov. 22, 2023. (Jake Dye/Peninsula Clarion)

Mark Keel, Coltin Yancey and Chef Stephen Lamm plate and serve the Thanksgiving meal at the Kenai Peninsula Food Bank in Soldotna, Alaska, on Wednesday, Nov. 22, 2023. (Jake Dye/Peninsula Clarion)

Mark Keel, Coltin Yancey and Chef Stephen Lamm plate and serve the Thanksgiving meal at the Kenai Peninsula Food Bank in Soldotna, Alaska, on Wednesday, Nov. 22, 2023. (Jake Dye/Peninsula Clarion)

Mark Keel, Coltin Yancey and Chef Stephen Lamm plate and serve the Thanksgiving meal at the Kenai Peninsula Food Bank in Soldotna, Alaska, on Wednesday, Nov. 22, 2023. (Jake Dye/Peninsula Clarion)

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