Thanksgiving Blessing Tomorrow

I was unaware of Thanksgiving Blessing Project commencing tomorrow until I saw a flier in one of the schools where I substitute-teach. Doing a little checking I found out it’s a huge effort on the part of the Food Bank and a number of local organizations. The Food Bank was kind enough to answer some questions about this incredible community effort. Their response is printed below after the list of distribution sites and related zipcodes. From 3-8 p.m. tomorrow families can receive a turkey and all the fixings for a Thanksgiving meal by going to one of the seven (7) sites listed below. Recipients are asked to bring proof of address with them.

Crosspoint Church
Dimond and Minnesota, in the Burlington Coat Factory Mall
Zipcodes: 99507, 99511, 99515, 99516, 99518, 99522, 99523, 99540, 99587

Faith Christian Community
4240 Wisconsin in Spenard
Zipcodes: 99502, 99517, 99519

Central Lutheran Church
Cordova and 15th
Zipcodes: 99501 addresses WEST of Gambell, 99503, 99510, 99512, 99513, 99520,99524

St. Patrick’s Church
2111 Muldoon Road
Zipcodes: 99504, 99509, 99521

Alaska Native Cultural Charter School
550 Bragaw Street
Zipcodes: 99501 addresses EAST of Gambell, 99508 addresses SOUTH of Glenn Hwy

Mt. View Community Center
315 N. Price, off of Mt. View Drive
Zipcodes: 99508 addresses NORTH of Glenn Hwy

Joy Lutheran Church
10111 E. Eagle River Loop Road
Zipcodes: 99505, 99506, 99567, 99577

Karla Jutzi of the Food Bank kindly answered some key questions I posed. A flier covering many more details of the Thanksgiving Blessing Project is also attached.

CV: Church Visits
CJ: Carla Jutzi

CV: How long has Thanksgiving Blessing been in operation and who funds it?
CJ: Thanksgiving Blessing began in Anchorage in 2004 and in the Valley in 2010 as community-wide collaborations to be more effective and efficient in distributing food to those who might otherwise go without a Thanksgiving dinner. It is funded by donations of food and financial gifts that members of all the involved congregations and agencies give or raise and by Food Bank of Alaska, which furnishes the turkeys and produce. Food Bank of Alaska supports its part with a combination of government and private grants and donations from businesses and individuals.

CV: What are the qualifications to receive the food?
CJ: There are no qualifications except need identified by clients themselves. Recipients are asked to go to the site serving their zip code to facilitate planning and are asked to bring proof of address.

CV: How were pickup sites selected?
CJ: A committee of involved congregations and agencies (LSSA, Catholic Social Services, Love, Inc.) makes decisions about how Thanksgiving Blessing is organized and run. Food Bank of Alaska facilitates this planning process.

CV: What does a typical recipient/family receive?
CJ: Families have the chance to “shop,” so they can select what they want and will use and are not required to take a prepackaged box. Available are a turkey for every household with a roasting pan, canned vegetables, cranberry sauce, stuffing mix, gravy mix, a bag of potatoes, a bag of apples, dinner rolls, pies, and butter or margarine. The amount depends on family size.

CV: What is the average cost per distribution?
CJ: We are estimating the average cost per household this year at $45.

CV: How do you ensure recipients do not collect from multiple organizations doing such distributions, i.e. churches, non-profits, etc.?
CJ: Minimizing this is one of the reasons the coordinated, community-wide distribution began. Blessing sites register families when they arrive and ask families to go only to the site serving their zip code and to bring proof of address with them.

CV: How is the local community involved in preparing and distributing this?
CJ: Leaders of the local faith community do the planning, solicit donations of food and funds, and solicit and deploy an army of volunteers who do set up and distribution. Food Bank of Alaska facilitates planning, does bulk food purchases based on site orders, receives and processes donations for the event and individual sites, prepares materials and coordinates media outreach, and warehouses and distributes purchased food. Alaska 211 handles information and referral.

The Thanksgiving Blessing Project is a wonderful holiday project involving our local community. Last year Thanksgiving Blessing provided meals for 7,479 Anchorage families. I believe this project would be significantly helped by your online contribution in any amount, or mail your gift to Food Bank of Alaska, 2121 Spar Ave., Anchorage, AK 99501.

I believe a hearty thank you is owed to all those in our community who care that everyone in our community has a meal on our national holiday Thanksgiving. My thanks is extended to all those involved in this worthy cause.