Southeast food bank receives gift of space

Homeless nonprofit finds shelter at Lemon Creek warehouse

Posted: Thursday, December 20, 2001

The Southeast Alaska Food Bank should be up and running at full strength following the New Year's holiday after a local developer donated warehouse space to the charity through April 1.

Earlier this month, Jan Van Dort donated a portion of a Lemon Creek building to the food bank, which had been without a home since a previous space donation expired last fall. Construction on a new, permanent building for the food bank has been halted by winter weather.

Food bank board member Laraine Derr said Van Dort's gift just in time for Christmas - seemed unreal at first.

"When he called, I asked if he had wings," she said.

The food bank will occupy about 1,000 square feet in Van Dort's building, a newly built structure on Anka Street.

Van Dort said the donation was simply a case of the food bank needing space, and his building having vacant space suitable to meet the charity's needs.

Before opening at its new location, Derr said the food bank will have to move its food supplies, as well as freezers and coolers that have been stored in a donated Alaska Marine Lines container. Moving should take place next week after the Christmas holiday, with the food bank expected to be open soon after New Year's Day.

Derr said the food bank hopes its permanent building, on Crazy Horse Drive, will be available for some use by the time the donated space runs out in April.

Derr said it has been hard for the food bank to be without a home - especially when so many area residents are making generous donations for the holidays.

"It's been frustrating," she said. "People have been wonderful this time of year, doing food drives. ... As we've been collecting ... we've been taking (items) to St. Vincent de Paul."

Joan Decker, executive director of the Glory Hole shelter, said reopening the food bank will allow other charities to devote more time to other areas of need.

"It's going to save a lot of time and confusion," she said. "I'll be able to pay more attention to the people that are here."

The food bank also will be able to better handle perishable goods. The Glory Hole lacks the storage space to keep all those items, as well as the quantities of food donated by local merchants, Decker said.

Decker said items in short supply at the Glory Hole include Christmas candy and pumpkin pies for the holidays, as well as canned goods and dry goods for use in food boxes for the holidays and beyond.

Maj. Larry Fankhauser of the Salvation Army said donations have met his organizations' holiday needs.

"We'd really like to thank the Juneau community," he said. "We're going to be able to meet all our requests for assistance ... and have some items left over for the winter months."

Stan Miller, who serves as a board member with St. Vincent de Paul and the food bank, said both charities could use donations of canned goods and dry goods for their yearround programs. Food bank donations can be dropped off at St. Vincent de Paul and designated for the food bank, he said.

Miller said the donation of space for the food bank shows the community at its best.

"It's Juneau being typical, doing the best they can for everybody," he said. "We're overwhelmed with the response."

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