The Valdez Star - Serving Prince William Sound and Copper River Basin

Bill Johnson for Alaska House

By STEVEN WEBER
Valdez Star 

Switcharoo at the food bank is helping both volunteers and the clients

Changes at the board level are bringing new ideas forward to solve old problems

 


Two changes at the organization that distributes food to the needy go together like peas and carrots.

The Valdez Food Bank switched its distribution day to Saturday morning (from 10 a.m.-12 p.m.) to accommodate its board of directors, which recently experienced a turn-over of roughly half its membership.

According to Matthew Wadsworth, vice-president of the food bank, the changes were made to increase the number of prospective board members and volunteers. This in turn will allow the organization to better serve the community.

"We had some board members whom had been serving at the food bank for years and years and recently moved out of the area. The previous Thursday distribution was changed because a lot of the current board members could not come on Thursday evenings after work and Saturday made it easier to fulfill family or other obligations," Wadsworth said. "We had a bit of a crisis with our board membership because we only had three-four people that could attend distribution on Thursday."

The food bank has a "working board" which means that in addition to a monthly meeting the first Tuesday of each month, members also are responsible for operations, which include the weekly distribution of food items and maintenance of the facilities.

To date, Wadsworth has heard no objections to the move to Saturday and is only seeing positive outcomes.

"More people were able to apply for board membership and we were able to fill our board and increase the number of volunteers we have working on Saturday," he said.

Wadsworth also pointed out that the Food Bank is not without its issues.

"We have been looking for a new place the last few years because our storage is limited," he said. "The fish hatchery graciously lets us store our pallets there in the off season but this means we have to take all of the pallets to the fishery, inventory them accordingly and then bring them back for weekly distributions. During the summer we have to find various locations around town to store the food."

Another concern that Wadsworth would like to see the food bank address is how it can make it easier to distribute food to those in need that do not live in town.

"Many people that struggle with food needs also struggle with transportation issues," Wadsworth said. "In the winter, the concern is people are walking to the food bank when a ride cannot be found."

Steven Weber photo

A number of board members in front of the Valdez Food Bank. From left to right: VP Matt Wadsworth, Michelle Peterson, Katie Carr, Christine Sasse, Michelle Chase, Christie Franklin and Kristina Brown.

Wadsworth also said the board is open to new ideas.

"We have to know how we can do things better and are always open to receiving feedback from the community," he said.

Services are provided confidentially.

"It is completely confidential who uses the services," he said. "Every once in a while, in our lives, we find times where we need that extra help."

The mission of the Valdez Food Bank is to assist people who are in need and lacking sufficient nutrition through a regularly scheduled distribution of basic food items. Clients are generally underemployed, on disability, unemployed, or experiencing circumstances beyond his or her control. The Valdez Food Bank also provides assistance with other types of emergency assistance on a case by case basis such as heating, electricity, dental services, medical prescriptions and medical treatment.

 

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