More Alaskans at risk of going hungry this Hunger Action Month
September is Hunger Action Month. According to the Food Bank of Alaska, 14 percent of Alaskans are at risk of going hungry, including one in five children.
Food Bank rep Sarra Khlaifi said there are several ways you can help. You can donate food or you can volunteer at a food pantry, but you can also advocate for programs that help Alaskans in need.
One of those is the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) formerly known as food stamps. Khlaifi said the number of people who receive SNAP benefits has grown by 4,000 in the last year. They're also seeing more people coming to food pantries in the community.
It's believed the recession is a key cause as people lose their jobs or have their hours cut. Khlaifi said people often only think of the homeless as hungry, but that's not the case.
"Hunger and food insecurity is often faced by working families, by children, by seniors and so, it's not just this issue that's for one group of people. Many different Alaskans are facing hunger in different ways.” she said.
Khlaifi said about 89,000 Alaskans receive SNAP assistance. Most are children, the elderly or disabled.
According to new data from the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, 25,300 Alaska SNAP recipients have jobs. They most commonly work as cashiers, stock clerks, and janitors. The top five occupations among Alaskans who participate in the Food Stamp Program have average hourly wages far below the state average of $27.26 in 2016.
Khlaifi said SNAP funds buy ten times the amount of food charitable organizations can provide. That’s why they ask people to advocate for the program, and those like it, to ensure every Alaska has enough to eat.
The Food Bank of Alaska is holding several events this month to raise awareness.
- Engage during Advocacy Action Night on Wednesday, Sept. 13, 5:30 to 6:30 p.m. at FBA. Learn how to be a volunteer advocate and lend your voice in support of critical programs that hungry Alaskans rely on. There will be snacks and raffle prizes! Click here to sign up.
- Come learn at a One Course Discourse: SNAP Works for Alaska, a community discourse on the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program led by a panel discussion. Free Admission at Bear Tooth TheatrePub, Friday, Sept. 22 from 11:30 to 1 p.m.
- Dine Out Against Hunger on Thursday, Sept. 28 and help support Food Bank of Alaska. Simply dine at one of our participating restaurants, who will donate a portion of the day’s proceeds to fight hunger. Current restaurants include:
- The Rustic Goat
- Hard Rock Cafe
- Texas Roadhouse (South Anchorage)
- Fat Ptarmigan
- Sizzlin Cafe
(Keep an eye out for more in the next couple of weeks!)