Anchor Point Food Pantry fills stomachs and spirits

Going into its 12th year, the Anchor Point Food Pantry continues its mission of outreach and support for members of the community, working to spread awareness and make a difference in residents’ lives. Serving the lower Kenai Peninsula from Anchor Point to Nikolaevsk to Happy Valley, the volunteer organization sees a steady and growing demand for the most basic of human needs — food.

The pantry operates out of Great Land Worship Center in Anchor Point and is open every Monday from 4-6 p.m. People are welcome to come in, enjoy a homemade hot meal and fellowship, and sign up to receive available food and hygiene items that they need for themselves and their family members.

The Anchor Point Food Pantry was first established in 2006 when social worker Donna Silbee-Dennis saw a need and started running the pantry out of her home. However, it soon outgrew Silbee-Dennis’s home, and the Church of the Nazarene in Anchor Point agreed to support the pantry and store the food donations. The pantry worked with the Church of the Nazarene until 2013, by which time it had grown to need a larger facility. Retired minister Jack Michael, who sits on the Anchor Point Food Pantry’s board of directors, approached the pastor of Great Land Worship Center about moving the pantry to their fellowship hall. This idea was welcomed by the church and they provided a room for food storage and full kitchen facilities, which were recently remodeled.

The pantry has been registered as a business in the state of Alaska since 2012 and became a 501(c)(3) organization in 2017, which means they are approved by the Internal Revenue Service as a tax-exempt nonprofit organization. The Anchor Point Food Pantry is run by a board of officers, including president Teece Scovell and vice president and treasurer Melissa “Missy” Martin, a board of directors, and 22 volunteers, several of whom are regular volunteers.

In 2017, the pantry served 142 households in Anchor Point, Nikolaevsk, and Happy Valley, according to Martin. Each Monday when the pantry is open, they serve 25-45 households and pick up at least one new household each week. Volunteers or board members also make deliveries to homebound people in Anchor Point and Nikolaevsk.

“And then we’ll get calls during the week,” said Scovell. “I probably average three to five calls during the week for people who are in dire need and can’t wait until Monday. We’ll come in and put a box together and deliver it to them.”

Throughout 2016, the Anchor Point Food Pantry served a total of 350 adults, 50 seniors, 62 disabled persons, 30 veterans, 19 disabled veterans and 70 children.

“Our goal is to help the community,” said Scovell. “There’s still a large group of people who don’t know we’re here. So we’ve been trying to work real hard this year, saying ‘Hey! We’re here if you need us! Come on by!’”

As a non-profit organization, the Anchor Point Food Pantry receives funds to operate from donations and fundraisers. They provide for patrons’ nutrition and hygiene needs and offer referrals for other services they are currently unable to provide, such as gas vouchers or emergency housing. Periodically, a representative from Planned Parenthood comes in to educate patrons on available services. The pantry also works with other agencies like the Salvation Army Homer Corps, the Lions Club in Homer and Share the Spirit to provide services and commodities for residents in Anchor Point and surrounding areas.

Once a week, two staff members of the Anchor Point Food Pantry drive to the Kenai Peninsula Food Bank in Soldotna to purchase food at a reduced price. The Anchor Point Food Pantry also receives donations from several other sources including the Homer Food Pantry, which is open on Mondays from 1-3 p.m.

“(The Homer Food Pantry) sets aside about a quarter of what they’d been able to gather during the week from stores and individuals,” said Scovell. “At the end of the day, whatever is left on the tables that people haven’t taken (is sent) as well. We have a driver who goes into Homer, loads up all the food, and brings it out.”

The Anchor Point Post Office does an annual food drive, which brought in 350 pounds of nonperishable food items in 2017 and 300 pounds in 2016. Other local businesses, including the Cheeky Moose laundromat and the Helping Hands thrift shop, also put together donation boxes for the pantry. Individuals are welcome to make important monetary and food donations as well, like one family that began donating fresh eggs in 2017.

“The community is beginning to come together, and we’re acting like a cohesive unit. We’re becoming something that people can depend upon, which is what we want. We’re there to help make a difference, and to serve the community,” said Scovell.

The pantry is always in need of donations, whether they be of money, food, or volunteer hours. They would like to be able to provide more hygiene and beauty products. In addition, they would like to be able to provide meat on a regular basis, as they can currently only afford to disseminate it once a month.

Besides food, the pantry also provides opportunities for fellowship and socialization among members of the community each Monday. Patrons are welcome to come in and visit, check on the latest news, and receive a hot meal. Staff members take turns bringing in homemade soup and the pantry provides bread, desserts, and hot drinks.

“The big thing I see the pantry doing for the community is relieving the isolation that so many people feel,” said Scovell. “It’s wonderful that we can provide the food for them. But an even greater service that we’re able to provide has been the opportunity to develop friendships and connect them with their community and make them feel like they’re a part of something important. It’s been amazing, the response of the public and the people that come in, it’s so heartwarming. You know you’re doing a good thing when someone will come in and say thanks. Just a ‘thanks’ or ‘I don’t know what I would have done if you hadn’t been here.’ That makes it worthwhile.”

Delcenia Cosman is a freelance writer from Anchor Point and a KBC student.