(Peninsula Clarion file)

(Peninsula Clarion file)

Anchor Point Food Pantry looking for new home

The pantry has seen a sharp increase in patrons during the COVID-19 pandemic

An increase in patrons, planned church renovations and a growing congregation are all part of why the Anchor Point Food Pantry is being asked to move out of the church where they currently operate.

The Anchor Point Food Pantry is open to the public every Monday from 4-6 p.m. and offers a hot meal, a bag of food staples and a fresh produce line. That’s in addition to other programs they provide, such as a summer produce program, holiday food boxes and meals and programs for children.

The pantry has operated out of the Great Land Worship Center church in Anchor Point for the last nine years, with the church paying for utilities and making donations to the organization.

“They have certainly done their part to help us to feed the hungry in our community, and they pledge to continue their support,” said Anchor Point Food Pantry Vice President Melissa Martin.

A May 19 letter from Great Land Worship Center Pastor Robert Hallam says that the growth of the food pantry, the growth of the church’s congregation and planned renovations to parts of the church currently used by the food pantry all factored into the decision.

“All of these factors … are the most urgent aspects that mitigated our decision to ask APFP to look for another location that will allow them to grow to their fullest vision and potential in helping our community,” Hallam wrote.

Martin said while the moving process has been “stressful” and shifted a lot of responsibility to the food pantry, they are committed to continuing to serve the community.

“There are people who are hungry out there, so we won’t give up for their sake,” Martin said via email.

The Anchor Point Food Pantry’s roots can be traced back to 2006, when Donna Dennis started it out of her home before moving it to the Church of the Nazarene when she outgrew the space. The pantry moved to the Great Land Worship Center in 2012, which had even more storage space and a larger kitchen, and became a 501c3 nonprofit organization in 2016.

The number of people seeking assistance from the pantry has increased dramatically throughout the COVID-19 pandemic.

The Anchor Point Food Pantry served 240 adults and 70 children in October of 2019. That’s compared to the 674 adults and 554 children they served in October of 2020, though the sharp increase in children served is partially due to a program that provided 250 bags to area children. They served 854 adults and 427 children, again including a children’s program, in December 2020.

Though their operations have increased “exponentially” during the pandemic, a release from the pantry said, they have been unable to hold fundraisers.

“Because of our growing need, and the church wanting to go in a different direction, we must find another home for our pantry,” the release said. “This is understandable but has presented an increased hardship on us. We appreciate any help one may provide.”

Martin said the pantry is currently being assisted by the Kenai Peninsula Food Bank Executive Director Greg Meyer, Homer Foundation Executive Director Mike Miller and First National Bank Vice President Cinda Martin, who also serves as the treasurer of the Homer Community Food Pantry.

“They see our dilemma and are helping us — truly from the heart,” Martin said.

Martin said that a planning committee of eight people from the Anchor Point committee is working to combine the need for a food pantry with a town desire for a community center. Anchor Point Chamber of Commerce President Dawson Slaughter and John Cox, Martin said, have petitioned the Kenai Peninsula Borough Assembly and Borough Mayor Charlie Pierce on behalf of the pantry as they seek out a new location.

“It is a difficult process, and we will need more help, but it will be well worth it,” Martin said.

Kenai Peninsula Borough Land Management Officer Marcus Mueller said Tuesday that the Kenai Peninsula Borough Land Management Division has “been in discussions” with representatives from the food pantry about potentially having a project location on roughly 5 acres of borough land near the Anchor Point Waste Transfer site. Mueller said that the borough gave the food pantry application information for a negotiated sale or lease.

“Any commitment of land and the associated terms would require approval by the borough assembly,” Mueller said.

More information about the Anchor Point Food Pantry can be found on the organization’s Facebook page.

Reach reporter Ashlyn O’Hara at ashlyn.ohara@peninsulaclarion.com.

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