Kenai Peninsula Food Banks staff and volunteers assemble food bags for the cities of Kenai and Soldotna recently at the food bank near Soldotna, Alaska. (Photo courtesy Kenai Peninsula Food Bank)

Kenai Peninsula Food Banks staff and volunteers assemble food bags for the cities of Kenai and Soldotna recently at the food bank near Soldotna, Alaska. (Photo courtesy Kenai Peninsula Food Bank)

Food bank bag program extended through end of April

The nonprofit was awarded a grant by the Soldotna City Council during their Wednesday meeting

The Kenai Peninsula Food Bank will extend its Soldotna food bag distribution program through at least the end of April following a vote by the Soldotna City Council in favor of awarding the nonprofit a $129,600 grant using federal CARES Act funding.

The food bank, which serves the entire Kenai Peninsula Borough, has seen an increase in demand for services throughout the COVID-19 pandemic.

According to a memo from Soldotna City Manager Stephanie Queen to the Soldotna City Council, the food bank received an initial $250,000 from the city last October, which was also funded with CARES Act money. That grant amount was later increased to $322,621.05 so that the program could be expanded to meet growing demand and to cover additional administrative costs. According to the memo, the food bank gave out 700 bags of food per week to Soldotna residents from October 2020 to January 2021.

The money approved by the council during their Wednesday meeting will give the food bank enough money to provide 400 bags of food per week through the end of April.

In a letter from Kenai Peninsula Food Bank Executive Director Greg Meyer to the council requesting the additional funds, Meyer said that some of the funds will go to the food bags themselves and some of it will go to paying for logistics.

$120,000, Meyer wrote, will fund 400 food bags per week for 12 weeks at $25 per bag. $9,600 will pay for things like food bank truck driver salaries, warehouses costs, packaging, bag assembly and reporting, among others.

“Thank you for considering the extension of the food program,” Meyer wrote in his letter. “It is truly a lifeline for our neighbors during these very difficult days. I cannot think of a more valuable service to our community.”

During her closing comments at Wednesday’s meeting, city council member Linda Farnsworth-Hutchings expressed her support for the work of the food bank and noted an increase in the amount of food that they have distributed compared to previous years.

“I think it’s commendable that Soldotna as a whole has been so instrumental in making sure food gets out to the hungry,” Farnsworth-Hutchings said.

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

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