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 according to officials, but this year they won’t open until November. The Bethel Lion’s Club runs the Food Pantry. Carol Ann Willard is President of the Bethel Lions Club and Co-Chair for the food bank. She says there’s less help from the government at a time when more people need food.

“Over the years we’ve seen a decrease in the food we get from Food Bank of Alaska, basically the government food,” Willard says. “Also there are 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.”

Willard has been helping with Bethel’s Food Pantry for more than a decade. She 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 bank donated several thousand dollars so they could purchase food. The bank branch will be making a similar donation 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,” Willard says. “That helps us out a bit. Those are more perishable items that we get so it’s kind of time sensitive.”

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,” Willard says. “So anybody who would like to help volunteer and help that would be great.”

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

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