Volunteers and employees of the Kenai Peninsula Food Bank set up shop in Soldotna Creek Park on Thursday for one of their largest fundraisers of the year, kicking off this year’s Progress Days festivities.
Lilly Murray, the communications coordinator for the food bank, said one of the events to highlight the center’s work was the ceviche-making demonstration. The food bank’s chef, Stephen Lamm, prepared salmon ceviche on stage while instructing the crowd on the process.
Murray said one of the main messages she wants to send about the food bank is that free meals are offered to anyone, despite social service eligibility.
“We feed everybody,” she said. “That’s our main goal.”
Lamm said a lot of community members are unsure if they can come in for lunch or not. While the food bank makes an impact on people experiencing food insecurity, he said the messaging can be disseminated more widely.
“We have the ability to spread so much more,” Lamm said.
One of the primary ways to combat food insecurity is the food bank’s pickup and delivery service, Murray said. Community members are able to both pick up to-go meals for themselves or others, and receive food at their houses.
This year’s fundraiser aims to raise 2 tons of food and fuel for the facility. Adding the fuel component is new to this year’s drive, as rising gas prices have already burned through the food bank’s budget for the whole year.
“In order to keep that service going, we wanted to add that to our fundraiser,” she said.
Progress Days events are planned Friday and Saturday this week, as part of a celebration of Soldotna’s population boom of the 1950s and 1960s, after settlers discovered oil north of Sterling at Swanson River. The city has commemorated the event every fourth weekend of July with a parade, which started in 1957.
The festivities include vendor and food booths in Soldotna Creek Park, shows by the Kenai Performers, Diamond and Forever Dance studios, live music, a beer garden, book and plant sale and the Kaknu Kruzers Car Show. The Progress Days Parade will start at 11 a.m. Saturday in Soldotna.