Ravn Alaska has partnered with the Food Bank of Alaska to help provide meals to elders on St. Paul Island.
Andronik Hanson is the food bank coordinator for the Aleut Community of St. Paul Island — the local tribal government. He said shipping costs for food can get expensive on an island in the middle of the Bering Sea.
“The big thing they’re doing is donating freight to get the boxes,” Hanson said.
Ravn covers the freight costs for about 18-25 boxes of food per month, which has totaled more than 1,400 pounds since the program started in November, according to a Ravn press release.
The monthly deliveries are part of an effort to combat food insecurity in the region, said Rob McKinney, chief executive of the regional airline.
“We’re the primary carrier that serves that island,” McKinney said. “So we feel like we have a special obligation to make sure that we take care of that community.”
Ravn has covered freight costs for more than 600 meals to the island over the past few months.
McKinney said the deliveries to St. Paul will continue monthly and are the beginning of a larger project.
“Once we know what the needs are and what our capabilities are, we definitely want to look at other communities where we can expand that partnership,” he said.
The company is looking to add another De Havilland Dash 8 plane and increase its cargo capacity to supply more communities in rural Alaska with meals in the future, according to McKinney.