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Health

Numbers fall at the Homer Food Pantry: "People are getting back on their feet"

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Homer Food Pantry
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The  Homer Community Food Pantry provides more than groceries. In addition to food shopping every Monday from noon to 3 p.m., they provide financial management, funds for paying bills and transportation to people who need it. 

 
KBBI's Kathleen Gustafson spoke with pantry director, Dennis Weidler. He noted about a 50% decrease in need for services and people coming in to pick out food items.

The Homer Community Food Pantry is open for shopping every Monday from noon to 3:00 p.m. at the Homer United Methodist Church on East Road at the entrance to Homer High School. 
 
You can contribute food items to the pantry by feeding the Shareasaurus, a drop off bin/dinosaur
at Save You More grocery store in Homer. 

 
To donate money or put yourself on the volunteer list, go to homerfoodpantry.org. 

Transcript

Weidler
 
Food provisions have gone down from about 160 families a week to about 80 in the last 60 days. 

 
 
KBBI
 
Oh, that's great news. 

 
 
Weidler
 
It was a big surprise and this is not just Homer, but I checked in with the Kenai Food Bank, Anchor Point Food Pantry, the same thing. It's pretty much as far as I can tell, Peninsula-wide.

 
 
 KBBI
 
The Food Pantry does sort of act as a financial advisor as well.
 

 
 
Weidler
 
 Think about rent and Enstar and things like that. Those have been fairly steady even maybe slightly less than they have been in the past.
 

 
 
KBBI
 
That could be an indicator that people are getting back on their feet. Now on the food pantry website, it mentions transportation to Anchorage. Is it a regular thing?

 
 
Weidler
 
That is a case by case basis. We've used everything from BUMPS, the Ninilchik Tribe transportation system. We've used the Alaska Bus Line and the Homer Stage Line. If people need to get from Homer, maybe to catch a flight, or if they have a job in Anchorage, then we can get them there.

 
 
KBBI
 
 You just took on a new volunteer.

 
Weidler
 
I have seven drivers who pick up from Safeway, Save You More and the Homer Theater every day, except Tuesday. A lady contacted me about being a volunteer. I said, "Do you have a vehicle? And can you lift some fairly heavy boxes?" And she said, "I sure can."  So just in a matter of moments, that position was filled. But, those daily drivers tend to turn over rather quickly.

 
KBBI
 
Is there any specific need that you could point to?

 
 
Weidler
 
Right now, we're still operating with a limited number of volunteers. That's largely because of the dictates of our facility, limiting the number of people we can have in every day.

So we have seven shopping carts, so there are seven people allowed in the building shopping at one time, everybody has to wear a mask. And that still has remained in effect for over 14 months. We've limited the number of volunteers.

Now, that's slowly starting to expand. And I think by August, we'll be back up and doing whatever we used to do. If that means providing a meal for our volunteers, I don't know if that's going to happen.

That hasn't happened in the last 14 months. If it's going to be providing to-go boxes for our clients, I don't know. But those are all possibilities. 

 
 
KBBI
 
You said, "providing a meal for your volunteers."
 Did you used to have a common meal for the volunteers?

 
 
Weidler
 
Yes. We all sat down at noon every Monday and shared a meal together. If you had a birthday during that month, the first Monday we'd have a birthday cake. That kind of camaraderie and team spirit, we've been missing.

 
 
KBBI
 
Thank you so much for your time.

 
 
Weidler
 
Okay. Well, thank you very much.