Support needed during Hunger Action Month

More Alaskans need food assistance since the start of the pandemic.
More Alaskans need food assistance since the start of the pandemic.(Taylor Clark)
Published: Sep. 8, 2020 at 6:38 PM AKDT
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ANCHORAGE, Alaska (KTUU) - September is National Hunger Action Month, a time to think about how to help people who are struggling to put food on the table. Local providers say that number may be higher than ever.

At the Saint Francis Food Pantry, run by Catholic Social Services, Director Bronwen Nicholls said they are serving more people than ever before. The number of clients, she said, varies between 80 and 120 a day. And many of the faces are new.

“A lot of people from the food industry, from the hospitality, as well as people who their household size has increased,” she said.

That’s not a surprise to Cara Durr at the Food Bank of Alaska. Durr said they’ve seen numbers rise steadily since the pandemic began.

“There was definitely a huge spike when COVID initially hit,” said Durr. “Then we saw a pretty sustained 75% increase across the board after that.”

Durr said federal programs have provided funding to help people cope, but she worries about what will happen when that goes away. One bright spot, she said, is how the public has stepped in to help fill the gap.

“I think hunger really is an issue that is in the forefront of people’s minds right now,” she said, adding that Hunger Action Month is a great time for people to get involved. “Just continue to encourage people to donate, to volunteer, to advocate. Continue to be involved, because the need is still very much there and will continue.”

The Catholic Social Service website lists a range of opportunities. The Food Bank of Alaska also lists ways that people can help. There’s a complete guide to food pantries and their hours for people who are in need. Durr said people can also get information on services by calling 211.

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