On a busy day in the office recently I worked through the day without much of a break. I didn’t take the time to stop and eat lunch or grab a snack. Many people have jobs that require long periods of work where it’s not convenient or not possible, to stop and get a bite to eat. But most of us know that we have food available to us. We don’t have to wonder if we’ll be able to eat when we’re hungry.
Sadly though, many among us are in situations where the next meal isn’t certain. They don’t have enough food.
People facing this reality are a diverse group. They’re school age kids, seniors on a low fixed income, and every age in between. They may be disabled and not have an adequate level of support, while many are also working families facing a difficult situation. Sometimes people need our support for only a short time, and others need our help for an extended period of time. Those that have to go hungry are all around us. They may be people we see often, and never know they’re struggling.
We have also seen the need grow in our community in recent years. The number of households we serve directly has grown 10 percent between 2014 and 2015, with an average of 715 for this year. You may notice that during the day the parking lot a the food bank is full, as people are there to pick up food for their family, get a hot and nutritious lunch in the Fireweed Diner, or shop in the ware house on behalf of another nonprofit that benefits from the services of the food bank.
While there is a significant challenge facing our community to serve those in need, the good news is that we are up to the challenge. There are many groups and individuals that volunteer their time to lend a hand. People come to the food bank to work in the garden, process food in the warehouse, clean up, maintain the building, serve lunch in the Fireweed Diner, organize events, and countless other jobs. Businesses and groups from all over our area organize food drives to collect food that can be distributed through out the Peninsula, often times on their own initiative.
There is also the financial support that comes from individuals, businesses, foundations and other groups. We cannot thank our donors enough for their support. The effort to face the challenge of food insecurity requires resources. It takes people, a building, and vehicles to do the hard work of helping those without enough to eat. All of which has a cost. In our current economic climate, it is a challenge in and of itself to secure the funding to meet the growing need of our community.
As you enjoy the holidays, please take the time to be thankful. In reflecting on what we have to be thankful for, there is an opportunity to do what we can for others. That can mean volunteering time and effort, or making a contribution that will help support an organization, doing what it can to make our communities a better place to live.
Steve Manley is president of the Kenai Peninsula Food Bank board of directors.