food

Kenai Peninsula Food Bank

The coronavirus pandemic has had a particularly tough economic impact on the food-service industry. Restaurants, caterers and other food businesses that usually purchase Alaska-grown produce have canceled or drastically cut back their orders this year, leaving local farmers with a surplus of produce. The USDA is buying excess food and making it available to food banks.

“And then food banks, at their own cost, are distributing it in their areas. So we’ve been sending trucks up to Anchorage two to three times a week, bringing down pallets of fresh produce and milk and distributing it throughout the whole, entire Kenai Peninsula,” said Randi Smith, head of donor relations at the Kenai Peninsula Food Bank. “So that’s helped everyone because there’s no income qualification or nothing like that. It’s just, ‘This is here, if you need it, take it.’”

On the peninsula, rather than make everyone come to the food bank, the food bank is bringing food to communities by partnering with churches and other organizations for distribution. Boxes of food have been distributed at the Kenai, Soldotna and North Star United Methodist churches, the Hospice office on the Kenai Spur Highway in Soldotna, in Hope, in Homer and other places in between.

When we’re stressed, it can be easy to rely on junk food. After all, fresh produce can be expensive in Alaska, too. But a number of central peninsula groups are trying to make it easier to stock up on delicious produce.

The Kenai Peninsula Food Bank has been extra busy this summer, with the pandemic putting extra pressure on the peninsula. The food bank is based in Soldotna but serves the entire borough and has been making runs with fresh produce out to more of the outlying communities as part of a “farm-to-family” program. Executive director Greg Meyer said the food bank was able to use donations to purchase a used refrigerated truck, too, which helps now that they are able to distribute fresh milk, too.

Food banks caught in trade war crosshairs

Sep 27, 2019

 

Food banks around the country were listed as one of few beneficiaries to ongoing trade disputes stemming from the Trump administration this summer. Part of the president’s farm bailout included more than a billion dollars of purchases of commodities to be distributed to the nation’s food banks. And while the Kenai Peninsula Food Bank has enjoyed some of that bounty, it's not been without its challenges.

 

 


Jenny Neyman/KDLL

On the calendar, spring officially begins March 21. In reality, we’ve got a while yet before anyone in southcentral Alaska is digging in the dirt, but that doesn’t stop intrepid growers from getting started.

On March 2, the Central Peninsula Garden Club had its annual get-ready-for-spring roundtables event at Peninsula Grace Brethren Church on Kalifornsky Beach Road in Soldotna, and a new opportunity for year-round greens has sprouted up in Soldotna.

Courtesy of the Kenai Soil and Water Conservation District

Saturday’s Harvest Moon Local Food Festival at Soldotna Creek Park fed on the area’s growing interest in eating locally.

“A lot of folks turned out. We’ve got a beautiful day, blue skies and lots of vendors, and it’s pretty lively,” said Heidi Chay, manager of the Kenai Soil and Water Conservation District and one of the organizers of the festival, which served as the culmination of a week of events celebrating local foods.

Courtest USDA

There’s an experiment growing in the borough’s gravel pit in Cooper Landing and it’s ready for harvest.

“There was a project about two years ago that result in an area being reclaimed. And so we had this nice, flat surface that was freshly top-soiled, and we’re looking at what to do with it in the long term. And for a temporary measure, we did some barley trials,” said Marcus Meuller, land management officer for the Kenai Peninsula Borough.

Meuller said the department has been working toward an agriculture initiative to find ways to use borough land to make agriculture more available for residents, and the barley experiment fits right in.


Kenai Conversation: Keeping holiday meals local

Nov 22, 2017

On this week's Kenai Conversation, Shaylon Cochran talks with Lou Heite from Eagle Glade Farms in Nikiski and Ken Hynes from the Flats Bistro in Kenai about what kind of ingredients are available locally this time of year and how to turn then into a great holiday meal. 

Jenny Neyman/KDLL

Sink your teeth into one of fall’s tastiest treats, cozy up for fall with a different kind of fleece and take a walk on the wild side with local plants that can be used for medicinal purposes.

Links in this episode:

O'Brien Garden and Trees:
https://www.facebook.com/obriengardenandtrees/

The Alpaca Guy:
http://www.thealpacaguy.com/