End the Year with Cheer: Helping feed hungry Alaskans

Published: Dec. 14, 2020 at 6:49 PM AKST
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ANCHORAGE, Alaska (KTUU) - The holiday season is filled with music, laughter and a lot of our favorite meals. But did you know that one in seven Alaskans struggle with hunger daily?

According to the Food Bank of Alaska, that’s nearly 100,000 Alaskans a year not getting the nutrition they need, and that was before the coronavirus pandemic. Additionally, the Food Bank of Alaska says 20% of children in the state live in homes that may not have enough food.

“Our need rose tremendously through the holiday season, but it just doesn’t stop there,” says Cassie Cowan, Beans Cafe administrative assistant. “There are so many families that need our help, and any help that anybody can provide is just so much appreciated.”

So while most of us are singing carols and shopping for presents, thousands of Alaskans are worried about where their next warm meal is coming from. But there is an easy way to help. The Children’s Lunchbox is helping to make sure no family goes hungry through its Pantry Pack program.

“Pantry packs are so important and the need is growing. One site alone has asked for double of what we usually drop to them,” says Cowan. “Families are requesting more and more each day and the supplies are rapidly decreasing.”

The packs cost about $10 apiece to put together and can feed a family of four. All items included in the packs are shelf-stable. You can find a list of meals for breakfast, lunch and dinner with different meal options for each on the Children’s Lunchbox website.

Pantry pack labels
Pantry pack labels(Children's Lunchbox)

An example of a breakfast box includes four individual cereal cups, four servings of shelf-stable milk, four fruit cups, four packs of hot chocolate and four granola bars. Assembly is easy — simply shop for the food items, pack them in a box, fill out a pantry pack label and drop them off at Beans Cafe.

“The pantry packs are not just for kids, they’re for families. It feeds every single person,” says Cowan. “So it’s not just impacting children in our community, it’s impacting whole families. So this is a huge opportunity to help a family in need.”

The holidays should be a time of joy and peace, not a time for families to worry about food. By stepping up and helping out, you can help the Children’s Lunchbox make sure no family in Anchorage goes hungry.

“People’s generosity is breathtaking and it’s beautiful and we just appreciate it so much,” Cowan says.

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