Bethel Food Pantry Struggles to Open

The Bethel Food Pantry is having trouble getting enough food to open. They usually open in August or September but this year they won’t open until November.

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The Bethel Lion’s Club runs the Food Pantry. President Carol Ann Willard says there’s less help from the government at a time when more people need food.

(Photo by Daysha Eaton, KYUK - Bethel)
(Photo by Daysha Eaton, KYUK – Bethel)

“Over the years we’ve seen a decrease in the food we get from Food Bank of Alaska, basically the government food. Also there’s more people, a lot of new people – every month it seems like there’s a lot a new people coming in and needing the food. So that’s just the economy and people without jobs. So the need has increased as well as the food supply has decreased,” said Willard.

Willard says as help from the government has dropped off, the Pantry has been seeking more local support. Last year the Bethel branch of Alaska USA Federal Credit Union donated several thousand dollars so the Pantry could purchase food and will donate again this year. In addition, Willard says food pantry officials are calling on local Grocery stores to help out.

“We’re trying to partner with the stores and other food service facilities in Bethel. We’re always looking for partnerships. That helps us out a bit. Those are more perishable items that we get so it’s kind of time sensitive,” said Willard.

Local groups are also doing food drives. She says they need canned items and non-perishable dry goods. Canned items cannot be dented. She says they also need volunteers:

“It takes volunteers to pull this of every third Saturday of the month as well as collecting food, storing the food – there’s different things that we can do. So anybody who would like to help volunteer and help that would be great,” said Willard.

The Bethel Food Pantry is set to open on November the 15th. They’ll be open on the third Saturday of the month after that.

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Daysha Eaton, KMXT - Kodiak
Daysha Eaton is a contributor with the Alaska Public Radio Network. Daysha Eaton holds a B.A. from Evergreen State College, and a M.A. from the University of Southern California. Daysha got her start in radio at Seattle public radio stations, KPLU and KUOW. Before coming to KBBI, she was the News Director at KYUK in Bethel. She has also worked as the Southcentral Reporter for KSKA in Anchorage. Daysha's work has appeared on NPR's "Morning Edition" and "All Things Considered", PRI's "The World" and "National Native News". She's happy to take assignments, and to get news tips, which are best sent via email. Daysha became a journalist because she believes in the power of storytelling. Stories connect us and they help us make sense of our world. They shed light on injustice and they comfort us in troubled times. She got into public broadcasting because it seems to fulfill the intention of the 4th Estate and to most effectively apply the freedom of the press granted to us through the Constitution. She feels that public radio has a special way of moving people emotionally through sound, taking them to remote places, introducing them to people they would not otherwise meet and compelling them to think about issues they might ordinarily overlook.