September is Hunger Action Month, a time for Alaskans to think about friends and neighbors who may be going hungry. You may not think you know anyone who struggles with food, but the numbers suggest otherwise.
The Food Bank of Alaska says one in seven Alaskans is either chronically hungry or struggles with food. The nonprofit, Feeding America, maps hunger across the country. According to its figures, almost 50,000 people who struggle with food live in Anchorage or the Mat-Su Valley.
Michael Miller, the executive director of the Food Bank of Alaska, says he has seen the need continue to grow. He also said the face of hunger is changing.
“Typically it’s the single mom who is having to make a choice between, do I feed my kids or do I feed myself?” said Miller. “It’s the retiree who says, do I buy medicine or do I buy food? Those are just very real choices. Alaska can be an expensive place to live.”
Miller says the need is increasing at the same time the shelves at the Food Bank are particularly bare. That’s not unusual at the end of the summer, he says.
“Summertime, generally, is a slow time for us,” said Miller. “On average, we are about 80,000 pounds a month below our average. So to put that in perspective, that’s two truck loads of food. That’s 67,000 meals a month that aren’t in the system that should be in the system.”
Miller says September is a great time to hold a food drive and give generously to organizations that help to feed Alaskans who are hungry.