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Pay it Forward February with the Food Bank of Alaska

(Taylor Clark)
Published: Feb. 18, 2021 at 5:55 PM AKST
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ANCHORAGE, Alaska (KTUU) - There are several ways to participate in Paying it Forward February, sponsored by the state Department of Health and Social Services, including helping at the Food Bank of Alaska.

Jenny Di Grappa, who works with the food bank, said there has been a 34% increase in food insecurity since the pandemic hit. Nearly one in six Alaskans are food insecure, she added, meaning they don’t know where their next meal is coming from — including about 40,000 children.

The pandemic has also hit many seniors hard, Di Grappa said. She told the story of one man who was self-quarantining she said he didn’t have transportation or a safety net of friends or family and he reached out for help from the food bank.

“This gentleman shared with us when once we had him signed up, and it was going to be about four days until we got him to senior box. He said he was really thankful, but in the meantime, he had cat food to eat until he got his senior box,” Di Grappa said. “And so, you know, it was. That’s, that’s what is happening in our community. And so we’re so thankful for everything that our community has been doing.”

Di Grappa said many Alaskans who were living paycheck to paycheck before the pandemic now find themselves in need of services. She said some families lost both incomes and were forced to utilize the nonprofit.

“That’s always the number one resource that families can easily cut is just to simply eat less or not eat sometimes at all,” she said. “And we heard of so many individuals, children and families, seniors, veterans, who were literally not eating in 2020, because they didn’t have access to food, they didn’t have the money, they were self-isolating.”

There are many ways to help the food bank, according to Di Grappa, including volunteering, doing a food drive and donating.

She said right now is a great time to volunteer. One socially-distant task they currently have is labeling donated salmon cans from SeaShare. Another way is to donate food. They have a list of their most needed items on their website.

Making a monetary donation is also always welcome. Di Grappa said because of partner organizations every dollar donated helps create three meals for Alaska families.

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