A map of Alaska with the Statewide region highlighted.
Organization: Food Bank of Alaska
City: Anchorage
Region: Statewide
Program Area: Human Services \ Food bank, food kitchen
Grants Received:
2016: $25,000  1998: $10,000
2015: $25,000  1997: $10,000
2014: $25,000  1995: $5,000
2012: $25,000  1994: $10,000
2010: $20,000  1993: $4,000
2008: $49,500  1992: $3,000
2007: $20,000  1991: $2,500
2006: $22,000  1990: $1,000
2005: $743,993  1989: $2,024
2004: $49,038  1988: $3,750
2003: $40,871  1985: $2,500
2001: $60,500  1982: $2,876
2000: $244,000

It takes a network to feed hungry Alaskans

Mission Statement
Food Bank of Alaska

Food Bank of Alaska believes that no one deserves to be hungry. We are dedicated to eliminating hunger in Alaska by obtaining and distributing food to nonprofit agencies serving hungry people.
The years had disappeared. My home had fallen apart; my children were gone. My possessions had all been lost or abandoned. The only thing I had left was a happy little mutt named Gypsy I had rescued from the dog pound years before. We lived in an old station wagon all that winter.

I found a food line that served every day. Gypsy was most often the first to be given a plate, piled high with our first glimpse of that day's meal. She made more friends than I did. She had more fun. Her new friends brought her scraps; kitchen workers filled her plate. Every day, she waited patiently outside the door while
I ate. After every meal, she and I sat in a nearby field and waited for evening.

A photo of a Food Bank of Alaska truck making deliveries.Spacer ImageWhen I woke up in my car on Christmas Day, I heard no sounds of life: no traffic, no music, no voices. An unwelcome damp kept me in the car until it was time for the midday meal. I walked to the hall with my dog and tied her up at the door. I went inside and lingered over my Christmas turkey-on-a-tray.

I recognized some people standing in line for second helpings—not usually served. It made me happy to think we would have a special Christmas treat—a second serving. But when I went again to the front of the line, the server recognized me by the wrap I always wear. "No seconds until everyone else has firsts," she said.

I turned away empty-handed. Others in the hall unwrapped small presents and called holiday plans to one another. Their happy smiles sparkled under the bright lights. Laughter mixed with holiday tunes coming from the kitchen's radio. "Merry Christmas," someone called to me. "Thank you," I said "Merry Christmas to you."

Scouts helpr preapre Food Bank of Alaska deliveries.Spacer ImageI retrieved my happy dog. We walked to middle of downtown. We sat on a cold cement bench under an overhang. Fog crept close. Gypsy sat at my feet and watched my face for signs of play. She wiggled her eyebrows and rolled her eyes. She shivered.

I had never seen fog so deliberate. I had never seen streets so empty. I drew my wrap around me and gave my dog a kiss on her caring face and scratched her cheek.

I missed my family. A warm place to go. The smell of cooking. Lights, a ready bathroom, a door to close behind me. My mother. My sons. After a while, we walked to the car to wait for the evening meal.

My days of standing in food lines are now long past. But I feel the glow of a warm place to go, the pleasure of a well-cooked meal, the welcome of friendly greetings. If I had to, I could stand again in a food line. I would wait for a glimpse of the day's meal, looking forward to the possibility of an extra serving. At the end of the meal I'd walk back to my car and keep myself warm with memories.

Ernestine Hayes lives in Juneau and teaches creative writing, humanities and English at the University of Alaska Southeast. She is the recipient of the Explorations 2002 Alaska Native Writer's Award and won recognition in the 2003 Native Oratory event. Her work is included in the 2003 anthology Traveler Tales Alaska and has appeared in stage, newspaper and radio formats. Her column "Edge of the Village" appears in the Juneau Empire.