How do your programs and services affect the lives of your clients?
Fairbanks Community Food Bank is an emergency service. We provide emergency food boxes to those who wake up in the morning and do not know where their next meal will come from.
Our original mission 30 years ago and continuing to today was that we would be the emergency service until those who seek food assistance are able to connect to food stamps or other, more comprehensive, continuing services.
Many of our customers are referred by 100 other health and social services case workers in the Tanana Valley, so we see ourselves as being able to solve the immediate need for food so that the other compelling issues can be worked on (domestic violence, mental health, loss of jobs, home fires, etc.).
How has United Way of the Tanana Valley helped your agency fulfill its mission?
We were accepted as a United Way member agency in 1985. During those 27 years, the United Way has raised over $1 million for this Food Bank. The money raised is undesignated, to be used as we most need it each year.
In addition, the allocation process of United Way keeps us on task and highly accountable. United Way has been the backbone funding for this Food Bank since we became a member agency.
One of the plans of the Food Bank’s board of directors for funding diversity, so we do not get too reliant on funding from one source, is to develop individual donors — and, in particular, local donors. United Way has helped us meet and present to local donors and potential donors. We need and appreciate the network and development of philanthropy on a local level.
We still receive free food and give it away free, so we cannot keep our doors open without local support.
For what are you most proud of the Food Bank?
We collect six days each week, two to five tons of local food (2 million pounds of collected food each year). We serve at least 200 people each day with that food (at least 10,000 households in the Tanana Valley). We do the work with 15 to 30 different volunteers each day (1,800 different people, 20,000 hours of donated time).
Samantha Kirstein is executive director of the Fairbanks Community Food Bank