Residents of the Kenai Peninsula are starting to feel the economic impacts of the COVID-19 outbreak, and more people than usual are looking to local food pantries to help keep their families fed.
Missy Martin, vice president of the Anchor Point food pantry, said on Saturday that the number of people in her small, rural community looking for services has tripled in the past month.
“First a lot of people lost their food stamps in January, then everything with the virus, and now people are dealing with unemployment,” Martin said. “The impact here is quite significant.”
Meanwhile, on the other side of the peninsula, Mike Little with the He Will Provide food pantry in Seward said his food pantry has recently seen a surplus of donations.
“We’ve been really blessed right here in our community,” Little said on Saturday. “We’ve gotten quite a few substantial contributions, and the small donations are just as appreciated.”
Greg Meyer, executive director of the Kenai Peninsula Food Bank, said Wednesday that the food bank had served 80 people for lunch the day before and was anticipating the daily count to remain that high.
“These days we’re just cooking for 100 because we don’t know what to expect,” Meyer said on Wednesday.
Below is a list of the food pantries on the peninsula that are currently open, as well as their hours of operation and contact information. All food pantries have had to limit their services to pickup and are no longer providing a dine-in option.
Kenai United Methodist Church — Open Mondays from 12:30 p.m. to 3 p.m. Located at 607 Frontage Road, Kenai. Call 907-283-7868 for more information.
North Star United Methodist Church — Open Tuesdays from 9 a.m. to 12 p.m. Located at 51095 Kenai Spur Highway, Kenai. Call 907-776-8732 for more information.
Soldotna United Methodist Church — Open Wednesdays from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. Located at 158 S. Binkley St., Soldotna. Call 907-262-4657 for more information.
Kenai Salvation Army — The thrift store is temporarily closed, but the family services center, including the food pantry, is open Monday through Friday from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. Located at 11824 Kenai Spur Highway, Kenai. Call 907-283-4536 for more information.
Kenai Peninsula Food Bank — The Fireweed diner is distributing to-go boxes Monday through Friday from 11:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. Located at 33955 Community College Dr., Soldotna. Direct services, including commodities pickup, are available from 12 p.m. to 4 p.m. Monday through Friday. Call 907-262-3111 for more information. The Food Bank is currently asking for monetary donations as well as items used for “to-go” meals, such as sandwich bags, fruit cups and other portable food items.
Homer Community Food Pantry — Drive-thru, walk-thru or taxi-thru services available on Mondays from 11:30 a.m. to 3 p.m. Located at 770 East End Road, Homer. Call 907-235-1968 for more information. Visit homerfoodpantry.org to donate.
Anchor Point Food Pantry — Open on Mondays from 3:30 p.m. to 6 p.m. Located at the Great Land Worship Center at 73358 School St., Anchor Point. Delivery service available to some locations upon request. Call 907-756-3719 for more information or to donate. Financial donations can also be sent to P.O. Box 266, Anchor Point, Alaska 99556.
He Shall Provide Food Pantry — Open on Thursdays from 2 p.m. to 6 p.m. Located behind the Seward Community Library and Museum at 239 6th Ave., Seward. Call 907-769-1395 for more information or to arrange a donation.
This list is meant to be updated as situations change. Contact reporter Brian Mazurek at firstname.lastname@example.org to include additional food pantries in this list or to provide any other updates.