Saturday, May 18, 2013
Food or Rent? More Families Forced to Choose
How do you pick between paying bills and putting food on the table? It’s a growing trend that one group is trying to fix one grocery bag at a time.
Thousands of Alaskans are going hungry as families are forced to choose between paying bills and putting food on the table. It’s a growing trend that one group is trying to fix one grocery bag at a time.
The group Fellowship In Serving Humanity, better known as F.I.S.H., delivers food directly to the doorsteps of struggling families all over Anchorage.
For more than 40 years, a crew of 75 volunteer shoppers, packers, and delivery drivers have dedicated their time to upholding the F.I.S.H. mission: to help out their fellow neighbors.
“If your neighbor came and knocked on your door and said, ‘Can I have some food?’ would you say ‘No. Too bad. Get a job?’” asked F.I.S.H. program coordinator Raissa D’Antonio. Answering her own question, she said people would “just help them.”
For the Hansen family, surviving gets tougher every day. “They are cutting back on overtime and then they cut back on what they pay you, so you have to squeeze it tighter,” said Mike Hansen. Rising costs are impacting how much Mike and his wife Dawn can afford to feed their family.
“Some months we have to use services like this just to tie ends,” he said.
F.I.S.H. volunteers have heard stories like the Hansen’s situation all too often.
Even in dual-income households, D’Antonio said she has heard of couples and families struggling to afford food.
“When I was paying $700 a month rent, that left me $300 to get through with food and everything,” said Teresa Gundersen, an Anchorage resident who depends on food donations.
The group's volunteers are trying to put a dent in solving such a widespread problem.
F.I.S.H. delivers emergency food to 60 to 80 families a week to every part of town, including bus stops and work parking lots, to make sure families can eat.
Because of such high demand, F.I.S.H. is unable to assist all of the families and individuals seeking food assistance without more food and fund donations.
Other agencies that connect food with the hungry are pantries from Catholic Social Services, Lutheran Social Services and the Food Bank of Alaska.