Empire editorial: Help feed the hungry

Posted: Friday, November 20, 2009

This week, Juneau residents will crowd grocery stores, cramming shopping carts with turkeys, potatoes, pie fixings in preparation for their Thanksgiving feasts.

Imagine what Thanksgiving would be if every single one of these carts contained one extra food item to donate to charity?

Helping others certainly doesn't take a grand gesture, small gifts can make a difference. And this year, with more families struggling in the economic downturn, the need is great.

Local charities St. Vincent de Paul and the Glory Hole are preparing Thanksgiving meal food boxes for about 650 families in Juneau. Although volunteers at the charities said that food donations are in line with last year, increasing need has left them short of items such as canned goods and turkeys. St. Vincent de Paul is requesting corn, green beans, cranberry sauce and gravy. The Glory Hole has only 40 turkeys when the need is closer to 350. The charity plans to start distributing food boxes on Monday, so time is running out.

The Southeast Alaska Food Bank, which works with a number of nonprofit groups to feed the hungry, distributed 85 tons of food in the last year, according to Manager Darren Adams. He said Juneau has been generous in the past. We hope to see the trend continue.

The Juneau Empire will be collecting non-perishable items throughout the holiday season.

Donors can fill out a form with their name and the organization they are with, along with items donated, and we'll recognize their generosity by publishing a running-record in the Empire through December.

All food and cash donations will be turned over to the Southeast Alaska Food Bank. The Empire is located at 3100 Channel Drive. Call 586-3740 for more information.

Adams of the Southeast Alaska Food Bank said pasta, peanut butter, soup, canned vegetables and fruit, pet food, and canned tuna and meat are always welcome. He said most food banks are unable to accept baby food, homemade items like smoked salmon or perishable items.

As more families tighten their budgets, charitable giving might seem like an easy expense to cut. This would be a mistake. While some families are simply cutting out luxuries, others are struggling just to pay for rent, gas and electric bills. And because of the economic downturn, more people are having a difficult time putting food on the table. On Nov. 26, these families aren't just facing a choice between grain-fed, free-range turkey and cheaper chicken. They're facing a choice between dinner and no dinner.

Hunger is a problem that affects everybody, and it's a problem that no one should tolerate. Every little bit helps, and our community's goal should be to ensure no one in Juneau goes hungry this holiday season.

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