Expanded Bean’s Café offering 10K daily meals

The former hot food kitchen is transforming into a full production facility, serving 24 area providers
Bean's Café closed as a hot food kitchen and reopened as a production facility equipped to produce as many as 10,000 meals per day
Published: Mar. 18, 2023 at 5:31 PM AKDT
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ANCHORAGE, Alaska (KTUU) - It’s a leap in the right direction for food security in Anchorage — at least a step into much bigger shoes.

Beans Café is no longer serving hot food from its former Downtown Anchorage location — The expanded new kitchen off Fourth Avenue in the Fairview neighborhood is producing a lot more food overall.

$7 million in private donations, city grants and CARES Act funds helped the food kitchen transform into a food supplier, an expansion from 5,000 square feet to 17,000 square feet.

The café now supplies food to 24 different partners from after-school programs to homeless outreach programs.

“We’re doing, gosh, probably about 6,000 meals a week and feeding everybody, hopefully, that needs the nourishment,” Beans Café CEO Lisa Sauder said. “I can tell you that the impacts are very real. We have seen a huge increase in demand for our pantry packs, which is a shelf-stable meal for a family of four. We are distributing about 1,500 of those every day and they are four meals.”

The new full-production kitchen will also provide work experience for those in need, such as those who are homeless and former inmates.

“We’ll be able to make croissants and dinner rolls and create social enterprises that can happen throughout the year using our baked products, working with restaurants and stuff,” Bean’s Café Chief Operating Officer Scott Lingle said.

It’s no longer just deep-fried and boiled food, Lingle said.

“The notion of a soup kitchen, beans, rice, water ... it’s completely thrown out the window now,” he said.

The new Beans Café has many more capabilities.

“We’re allowed to smoke up to 250 pounds of fish at a time,” Lingle said. “Providing that source of food, that comfort. Even though we’re homeless or even though we’re living in a tent or wherever, it doesn’t mean we can’t have and it doesn’t mean that we can’t do it. We have the skills, we have the equipment and we have the product.”

With a variety of ways to meet a variety of needs, the benefits of the new Bean’s Café are expected to have a ripple effect across the community.