The Food Pantry at Kenai United Methodist Church today celebrates its 20th anniversary, having opened Jan. 26, 2003. Every Monday from 12:30 p.m. to 3 p.m., the pantry is open and offers food and clothes to those experiencing food and housing insecurity.
Kari Mohn, a volunteer at the food pantry, said the food pantry grew out of the church’s Alcoholics Anonymous programming. She wrote in a timeline of the pantry’s history that founder Mike McDonald thought a major cause of relapse for members would be an attempt to numb their hunger with alcohol. The food pantry was a solution to that problem.
Twenty years later, the pantry is run by Food Pantry Chair Shirley Wooley, who is joined by 15 other volunteers. It accepts donated cans, boxes, jars and bags of nonperishable food, eggs from home flocks, soup prepared in commercial kitchens, clean and washed clothes and winter gear, books, household goods and paper goods.
On Monday, individuals in need of food entered the food pantry, checked in, took a cup of hot soup donated by Odie’s Deli in Soldotna, and a bag of other items. Loaves of bread, boxes of Cheerios, and cups of pudding were available, as well as a rack of clothing, a tote filled with hats and gloves, and more.
Peggy Nelson, a volunteer working Monday, said some sit and eat, while some take their food and go.
In April of last year, the pantry began tracking how many cups of soup it has served. To date well over 1,000 cups have been given. Information provided by Mohn shows that in 2022 the pantry received approximately 3,000 visits.
Nelson said that pantry is trying to decrease the stigma around asking for help. They don’t take drivers licenses, check backgrounds or ask for proof of need.
“We will never send anybody out of here without food if they need it,” she said. The food pantry is “a place for somebody to come on Mondays and get lunch and get fed and get warm — in the wintertime especially.”
Nelson said she’s only been involved with the food pantry since 2017, but that the work makes her happy.
“It would break my heart not to be able to do this,” Nelson said. “I really love this.”
Unopened food donations to the Kenai United Methodist Food Pantry can be brought during church service on Sundays, or to the food pantry between 1:30 and 2:30 p.m. on Mondays. They can also be placed in a red kiosk at the corner of Frontage Road and Bluff Street. Financial donations can be mailed to the church and marked “Food Pantry.”
More information about the Food Pantry can be found at “Kenai United Methodist Church” on Facebook.
Reach reporter Jake Dye at email@example.com.