Food Bank

Volunteers work tirelessly to sort and pack food boxes in preparation for Thanksgiving at the Fairbanks Community Food Bank Tuesday afternoon, November 20, 2018.

Each year the Fairbanks Community Food Bank sets a goal for Thanksgiving food donations, and each recent year it has overshot that goal. But this year brought about some moments of bated breath –– until this past weekend.

That's when the community really came through.

"It was really amazing to see an effort like that," said Sam Kirstein, the food bank's community development director.

Last year the food bank planned to put together 2,000 food boxes but ended up distributing 2,700.

The goal this year is to be able to distribute 2,500 food boxes for families in need to use for a Thanksgiving meal. Each food box may be different, but the goal is to make sure people can be fed.

"We don't always guarantee folks will get a turkey," Kirstein said. "But if they don't have a turkey, they'll have a ham or something like that."

The food bank is now within about 400 or 500 turkeys of its goal. But that is only after a whopper of a weekend, though, Kirstein added.

"It was really difficult leading up to this past weekend, we were pretty far behind our goal," she said. "But we had folks at our Fred Meyer stores bring in incredible amounts of food."

This is part of the food bank's annual pre-Thanksgiving food drive, when volunteers work donation tables at each of the Fred Meyer grocery stores Friday, Saturday and Sunday leading up to the holiday week.

Shoppers at the local Fred Meyer stores can grab a donation list from a volunteer on the way into the store, purchase a few ingredients needed for a food box such as a turkey, stuffing mix, pie or cranberry sauce, and then donate the items on the way out the door. The items are then taken to the food bank, where they are placed into individual food boxes that will help feed a family on Thanksgiving.

The effort over the weekend saw a donation of 671 turkeys.

"It was pretty amazing, our community always comes together," Kirstein said.

Food boxes will be assembled this week and distributed Wednesday in time for Thursday's meal.

In 2017, the food bank brought in 2.7 million pounds of donated food, provided 320,000 meals and did that with almost 23,000 volunteer hours.

Contact staff writer Erin McGroarty at 459-7544. Follow her on Twitter: @FDNMpolitics.


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