ANCHORAGE - Feeding America’s 2010 “Map the Meal Gap” report shows more than 104,000 Alaskans are struggling to get enough food. That’s up 14,000 from 2009.
A few years ago that would have included Rich Jackson and his four boys.
“It was frustrating because I was working 16 to 18 hours a day, seven days a week and I still wasn't making enough. It was hard. I still get choked up when I think about it because I had to feed my children,” said Jackson.
He now volunteers for the New Hope mobile food pantry.
“This place is great. They're here to help. If ever I have a chance to give back, I try to,” said Jackson.
On Monday volunteers stocked the shelves to prepare for the 350 families that will use the pantry throughout the week.
“It makes us feel like we're doing a small part in helping take care of our neighbors in our city. Helping provide nutritional meals for kids, knowing that's a big part for them in their educational pursuits as well as just being healthy,” said New Hope Executive Director, Brian Schaffer.
About 60 percent of New Hope’s food comes from the Alaska Food Bank. Last year that amounted to more than 200,000 pounds.
New Hope is just one of 300 agencies across the state to receive part of the 6.7 million pounds of goods the Food Bank distributed last year, but staff say it’s still not enough.
“We know since the economic recession we've been struggling to not fall farther and farther behind. What these numbers tell us is the need is provably getting worse and more people need assistance,” said Susannah Morgan, Executive Director for the Food Bank of Alaska.
To keep up with demand the Food Bank would need to send out about 13 million pounds of food every year. But staff say food keeps going out the door faster than it’s coming in.
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