Kenai Peninsula Food Bank runs out of fuel money

boxes of food stacked in a room
The Kenai Peninsula Food Bank. (Sabine Poux/KDLL)

The Kenai Peninsula Food Bank delivers food to more than 40 communities on the peninsula, from Homer to Hope. That takes a lot of fuel.

This year, after dealing with exceptionally high gas prices, the food bank burned through its entire fuel budget for the year by the summer. Now, they’re organizing a fundraiser to rebuild that budget.

“We’re pretty deep in the hole for fuel, but it’s one of our essential things,” said Lilly Murray, coordinator for the fundraiser. “We have to be able to deliver out to those places, otherwise people go hungry.”

The food bank uses diesel fuel to power its large delivery trucks. Diesel is currently averaging around $6 a gallon in Alaska.

Murray said the Kenai Peninsula Borough is the 13th most food insecure borough in the state, so the Food Bank tries to do what it can to combat that. It works with more than 70 partner agencies around the peninsula to get food out to every hungry community.

It’s also in the process of setting up a Emergency Food Assistance Program distribution center on the southern peninsula, which will require even more fuel. The federal program provides emergency food assistance for free to low-income families. The Kenai Peninsula Food Bank would be involved in the delivery of food boxes for the program.

“Basically, fuel is an essential part of our mission to feed people here on the Kenai Peninsula, and without it we can’t do what we need,” Murray said.

So far, the food bank has been dealing with the fuel deficit by using funds from other parts of its budget. But that has caused shortages in other areas, so it’s now hosting a fundraiser.

The fundraiser kicked off with a Food Bank at the Park event for Progress Days in Soldotna, collecting nonperishable food items and cash that went toward the fuel budget. The food bank also launched a new fundraising portal on its website where anyone can donate.

It’s currently seeking contracts with fuel distributors on the peninsula to get discounts on fuel.

And Murray said because of the uncertainty of fuel costs in the future, fundraising will likely continue through the rest of the year.

For now, she said, the food bank will continue to draw on any funds it has to get food delivered.

“We do the best that we absolutely can to help everybody, and we don’t want to cut off services,” she said. “So as long as we possibly can, as long as there’s money in the bank, we’re going to keep doing what we can to keep serving our 40 communities.”

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