The Anchor Point Food Pantry will begin establishing its new, permanent home this summer.
The pantry, founded in 2006, secured an affordable long-term lease from the Kenai Peninsula Borough in September 2022 for a 3.52 acre parcel of land near School Street in Anchor Point, according to information provided by Melissa Martin, president of the pantry’s board of directors.
A number of design professionals and contractors have offered their services pro bono to assist the pantry in the planning, design and development of their new home, Martin said in an April 20 interview. The pantry also obtained a $250,000 grant in March to begin construction and is currently seeking bids for electrician and plumbing services.
Currently based at the old SVT office attached to the Anchor River Inn store, the pantry has operated out of various locations since its inception, including founder Donna Silsbee-Dennis’s home, the Anchor Point Church of the Nazarene, and Great Land Worship Center, also located in Anchor Point.
Its goal is to distribute perishable and shelf-stable foods and provide warm, nutritious meals weekly to those experiencing food insecurity, including senior citizens, the disabled, the homeless, working-class community members, and others who have a need, Martin said. In addition, the pantry supports the community from Ninilchik to Homer through several special programs, including the Emergency Food Assistance Program, holiday food boxes, children’s programs and back-to-school kits, home deliveries, and homeless and marginal outreach.
In 2022, the pantry assisted over 300 families with over 90,000 pounds of food through the emergency assistance program and the Kenai Peninsula Food Bank. At the height of the COVID-19 pandemic, the group delivered food to as many as 100 households in one night, according to Martin.
The overall vision for the pantry’s new facility, a 10,000-12,000 square-foot pantry and multi-use facility, is to serve not only the pantry’s core food program but provide other community programs as well, including community-accessible greenhouses, an activity space for students and youth organizations, and a community event venue that can also be rented for large private events.
They want to “feed the hungry, but not to let it end there,” Martin said.
Outlined in a comprehensive development plan, the project is planned to be completed in three phases.
Phase 1, slated for construction this summer, will establish a 36- by 40-foot building with site access and parking, site improvements, utilities, on-site potable water storage filled by truck haul, and an on-site wastewater disposal system. This initial facility will allow the pantry to serve meals and provide groceries to clients. According to Martin, they hope to bring Phase 1 to a usable point so the pantry can move into and start working out of it by this winter.
“For today, the first phase of the pantry needs to get done so that we can continue our mission as we have done since 2006,” Martin wrote in an email to Homer News. “Right now we are lacking in space and it hinders us from giving the quality of care to our clientele and the community.”
Phase 2 will add on food storage space and a larger dining hall so clients may gather to eat congregate meals as had previously been done in the past. The facility established by Phase 1 will then become a dedicated commercial kitchen.
Phase 3 is geared toward the community event hall, for which input from the community will be welcome to help generate ideas for ways to benefit the general population. This addition will allow the pantry to become a community center when requested and provide the means to host fundraisers and be a venue for other nonprofits and community events, according to Martin.
Martin credited progress on the project to volunteers, local businesses and borough organizations, including the Homer Foundation, the Rasmuson Foundation, Homer’s 100 Women Who Care, the Kenai Peninsula Food Bank, the Food Bank of Alaska, the Alaska Community Foundation, the Cook Inlet Tribal Council, and St. John’s Catholic Church.
For more information, to volunteer with the pantry or to get involved with the project, contact email@example.com.