• Forecast
  • News Tip
  • Categories
Temperature Precipitation
Estimated read time
3m 18s

Harvesting Alaska: Summer produce donations needed at Food Bank of Alaska

By Gina Romero 3:21 PM August 11, 2016

Donations at Food Bank of Alaska are sparse. Entire shelves in the dry pantry are bare. Produce in cold storage is running low.

“We’re way down. The storage area is usually full,” said Cara Durr, director of public engagement at the food bank.

Produce donations come from various sources including farms, grocery stores and individual gardeners. Summer is typically slower when it comes to overall giving, Durr said.


The food bank partly relies on the Plant a Row for the Hungry program for fresh produce and received almost 1,000 pounds of produce last year. However, Durr said this year donations are down.

“It’s been an interesting summer I think for gardeners. It was really hot for a while, so a lot of people said some of their lettuces shot up and then it’s been kind of rainy so that’s kind of maybe molded some of the zucchinis,” she said. “We’re hoping that as we go into the fall that donations pick up.”

Produce is often the first thing to go when it comes to decisions on how to spend money. Thirty-four percent of mobile pantry users say they almost never or very rarely are able to afford produce, Durr said.

Yet, fresh food is one of the most requested items in Anchorage, according to a hunger study requested by the food bank.

“These produce donations for low-income people are really important,” she said. “It’s a real treat for them and they know it’s an important part of a healthy diet.”

A pallet with greens, beets and strawberries were available to people at a recent food bank distribution. The mobile pantry at Lutheran Church of Hope on Northern Lights Boulevard is one of eight locations throughout Anchorage. The goal is to move fresh items quickly before they go bad.

Megan Shanders waited for more than an hour to get her weekly ration that helps feed her two children, ages 4 and 17. She has been coming to the food distribution for almost a year. Shanders said the delivery helps her to pay bills on time because she doesn’t have to worry about spending money on food. She was particularly excited about a recent delivery of large zucchinis from the Point MacKenzie Correctional Farm.

“We just made zucchini bread, she said. “They are so good.”

The weekly food delivery at the Lutheran Church has anywhere from 135 to 180 people, according to Ryan Chernikoff, food distribution manager for Lutheran Social Services of Alaska. They see higher numbers toward the end of the month, he said.


As for the overall program, Cara Durr said they collect about 5 million pounds of food a year and about 1.5 million of that is produce. Major grocery stores, Tote and Charlie’s Produce donate large quantities of produce year-round. Still, she said all contributions are important.

“We appreciate donations. Summer is always a low time and it can be a tough time for families,” she said.

The Food Bank of Alaska accepts dry goods and produce donations at their location on Spar Avenue in Anchorage. Additionally, Alaska Mill Feed & Garden Center accepts Plant a Row donations. Those outside of Anchorage can call 2-1-1 to find out if there is a partnering food pantry in their community.

Harvesting Alaska is a featured series exploring all the ways Alaskans live off the land — from growing and foraging to fishing and crafting. We hope you’ll join us on our journey and share how you harvest Alaska. Share your recipes and ideas for upcoming articles.

Latest Stories

  • News

    Alcohol suspected in serious Seward Highway crash

    by KTVA CBS 11 News on May 28, 16:06

    The Seward Highway was completely closed in both directions for about five hours overnight following a crash at mile 76 near Portage Glacier Road. The crash occurred sometime just before 11 p.m. and the road finally reopened to traffic around 4 a.m. Anchorage Police say a northbound BMW crossed over into the oncoming traffic late […]

  • News

    1 dead in head-on Glenn Highway collision

    by KTVA Web Staff on May 28, 15:59

    The Anchorage Police Department’s Traffic Unit is trying to determine what caused an SUV to lose control and cause a fatal crash Saturday. About 15 minutes after midnight Saturday morning, APD says a Chevy Suburban inbound on the Glenn Highway lost control, crossed the center median and struck a Ford Focus head-on. The driver of […]

  • News

    Pedestrian struck, killed on Gambell

    by KTVA Web Staff on May 28, 15:54

    Anchorage Police are investigating a fatal crash involving a pedestrian. Just before 3 a.m. Saturday, a late model Chevy Malibu traveling southbound on Gambell Street struck a pedestrian. Police say the pedestrian, who has not yet been identified, was in the roadway outside of a crosswalk when he was hit. The man was taken to […]

  • Politics

    On first day back, Trump lashes out at ‘fake news media’

    by CBS News on May 28, 14:44

    WASHINGTON — Hours after returning from his first trip abroad as president, President Trump tweeted Sunday morning about “fake news media” and White House leaks. “It is my opinion that many of the leaks coming out of the White House are fabricated lies made up by the #FakeNews media,” Mr. Trump said in a series […]

  • News

    US official mulling greatly expanding airplane laptop ban

    by Associated Press on May 28, 11:30

    WASHINGTON (AP) – Homeland Security Secretary John Kelly says he’s considering banning laptops from the passenger cabins of all international flights to and from the United States. That would dramatically expand a ban announced in March that affects about 50 flights per day from 10 cities, mostly in the Middle East. The current ban was […]

  • News

    Feds: Man jumps from plane after trying to bite attendant

    by Associated Press on May 28, 11:27

    CHARLOTTE, N.C. (AP) – A 22-year-old man jumped out of an airplane waiting to take off in North Carolina and had to be stopped from running onto the runway. A federal air marshal said in a sworn statement that 22-year-old Tun Sein was flying from Charlotte to New Bern on Thursday when he stood after […]

  • Lifestyle

    ‘Pirates of the Caribbean’ tops box office, ‘Baywatch’ sinks

    by Associated Press on May 28, 10:54

    LOS ANGELES (AP) – It was smooth sailing to the top spot at the box office for “Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales,” but the waters were choppier for the Dwayne Johnson comedy “Baywatch.” Studio estimates on Sunday say the fifth installment of the “Pirates of the Caribbean” franchise commandeered $62.2 million […]

  • News

    Jet owned by Elvis sold for $430,000 at auction

    by Associated Press on May 27, 19:09

    ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (AP) – A private jet once owned by Elvis Presley has been auctioned after sitting on a runway in New Mexico for 35 years. GWS Auctions Inc. says the plane sold for $430,000 on Saturday at a California event featuring celebrity memorabilia. The auction house says Elvis designed the interior that has gold-tone […]