Bean’s Cafe and the Food Bank of Alaska are serving thousands of Anchorage citizens this Thanksgiving

Every Thanksgiving, families gather around the dinner table to give thanks and have a big Thanksgiving meal, but this year, 38,000 Anchorage residents will not have enough food to eat, according to Food Bank of Alaska. 1 in 6 Anchorage children cannot depend on having enough food each day. Different groups and individuals within the community this Thanksgiving season will help with the hunger problem. The Food Bank of Alaska and Bean’s Cafe are some of the groups that will be hosting events to help those in need.

The Food Bank of Alaska is prepared to give 10,000 families groceries like corn, beans and even a turkey days before thanksgiving, so families themselves can host their own dinner come Thanksgiving Day.

Karla Jutzi, director of development and communications at the Food Bank of Alaska is confident that the event will have a positive impact on various people within the community.

“It’s one of those events where the first time I saw it, I was just amazed at how the sense of community and how uplifting it is. You can imagine that if you needed to go and ask for groceries at Thanksgiving, you might go in feeling kind of bad and low. So often people do especially those who never needed help with food before for whatever circumstance, they’re now in a position where they are not sure they can feed their family and they leave feeling uplifted and respected and appreciated by their neighbors,” Jutzi said.

The event is called Thanksgiving Blessing and has been running for more than ten years in Anchorage and five years in the Valley. There will be six locations in the valley and six locations in Anchorage where groceries will be available to be picked up.

With food and monetary donations from churches and local organizations around the community, the Food Bank of Alaska is able to the purchase the groceries to distribute to those who are in need. There is no requirement or proof of “being poor” to receive the groceries. The event will take place on Saturday, Nov. 19, 10 a.m. – 4 p.m. in the Valley and Monday, Nov. 21, 3 p.m. – 8 p.m. in Anchorage.

On Thanksgiving Day, Bean’s Cafe will be directly serving food to the public to those who are in need. The meal is set up buffet style, which is different from their typical meal service. They will be serving turkey, ham, mashed potatoes with gravy, candied yams, stuffing, rolls, green-bean casserole, corn, assorted salad, fresh fruit, ambrosia fruit salad, pie, coffee and juice. Josh Pepper, the assistant program manager at the Bean’s Cafe believes many people in need will be fed.

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Stacks of common Thanksgiving food items are grouped in stations here at the busy Mt. View Community Center support location. Photo credit: Courtesy of Karla Jutzi
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“This year on Thanksgiving, we will prepare 1,000 meals, this number is designed to allow for second-helpings. I can’t tell you exactly how many unique individuals we will serve as the number has potential to vary a great deal,” said Pepper.

Bean’s Cafe has been helping the community for over 35 years by providing hot nutritious meals and a warm and safe day shelter to the homeless and hungry. They are open 365 days a year to ensure that their services are available to those who need it the most. With the help of food and monetary donations, and the hundreds of volunteers that help throughout the year, the local soup kitchen is able to help those in need.