The Boys & Girls Clubs of the Kenai Peninsula have expanded their summer meal program thanks to a partnership with local trucking company Carlile Transportation.
Rachel Chaffee, the CEO of the local Boys & Girls Clubs, said on Tuesday that the organization recently expanded their operations to include a distribution center in Seward, but that the location has had some trouble meeting the demand in its area.
Since the Boys & Girls Clubs began distributing food to kids around the peninsula on March 25, Chaffee said that there’s been a peninsula-wide increase in demand when compared to previous years.
Initially, the nonprofit was preparing dinner meals for kids to complement the school district’s meal program, which served breakfast and lunch. The end of the school year on May 21 meant the end of the school district’s meal program, so the Boys & Girls Clubs switched to serving breakfast and lunch.
Chaffee said that right now they’re serving about 650 meals a day at their various locations, including about 100 meals a day in Seward alone. With the increased need for meals, the Seward location started struggling to keep their shelves stocked.
Russ Baker, the Kenai regional manager for Carlile, said Chaffee reached out to him to see about arranging a regular delivery of food and other supplies from the distribution center in Kenai to the one in Seward. Chaffee was ready to pay for the service, but Baker and his sales team decided to help the Boys & Girls Clubs for free.
“This is a company that’s always been interested in community involvement,” Baker told the Clarion on Tuesday. “We’ve participated in the boys and girls club fundraiser by purchasing a table every year, and so when they came to us looking to move some needed food from Kenai to Seward we decided it would be a very manageable task to help them out.”
Baker explained that very few deliveries are made directly from Kenai to Seward — only about four or five shipments a week, compared to over a hundred shipments per week that go from Kenai to Anchorage.
So for the past four weeks, usually around Thursday, a truck from Carlile has pulled up to Kenai Central High School’s kitchen, where Boys & Girls Clubs employees are busy preparing all the meals that are distributed each day.
A pallet with about 600 pounds worth of food, paper and hygiene products is loaded onto the truck, where it is then consolidated into one of the full shipments headed to Anchorage. The next day, the supplies are transported from Anchorage down to Seward, where Irene Bloom, assistant director of the Seward Clubhouse, said it has made a big difference.
“As the need around here was growing, we were pretty limited with only a few employees and the few marketplaces in the area,” Bloom said. “These deliveries have been awesome, and it’s one less thing for us to worry about.”
This week the shipment included several large cans of fruit, tortillas, bread, milk, cleaning supplies and a lot of paper products.
Under normal circumstances, the Boys & Girls Clubs would offer the meals inside their clubhouses around the peninsula. Those meals would coincide with games and educational activities to keep the kids busy over the summer.
In response to the COVID-19 pandemic, however, the meal program has changed. Each clubhouse around the peninsula now has a certain time slot during which kids and parents come pick up breakfast and lunch to go. The employees are all wearing masks and gloves and are required to socially distance. Families do not have to be members of the Boys & Girls Clubs to get food, but there is a form available online that parents can fill out to learn what the menu is for the week and to give the Boys & Girls Clubs an idea of how many kids they’ll be feeding.
Below is the list of locations and pickup times for summer meal program. All locations serve food Monday through Friday. Children must be present to receive a meal. Visit the Boys & Girls Clubs website for more information at bgckp.com.
Kaleidoscope Elementary from 12-12:30 p.m.
Kenai Central High School from 12-1 p.m.
Tustumena Elementary from 12-1 p.m.
Nikiski North Star Elementary from 12-12:45 p.m.
Nikiski Middle-High School from 1-1:30 p.m.
Redoubt Elementary from 1:30-2:30 p.m.