In September 2008, Ephraim Palmero started a food bank at Anchorage Northside Adventist Church, located in downtown Anchorage. A small closet situated at the bottom of the church stairs was designated as the storage area when it opened for operation.
As food insecurity was the major concern and a greater community need, the church decided to eliminate clothing distribution and move operations to a larger storage area. Under new leadership and over the years, the food bank has expanded to fill two refrigerators, three freezers and two convertible freezer/refrigerators, plus multiple racks of shelving.
The food bank closed due to the pandemic, and necessary repairs to the church structure delayed reopening until October 2022.
A team of volunteers picks up supplies from the main office at the Food Bank of Alaska and delivers them to the church on Wednesdays. Additional volunteers carry the supplies downstairs for storage and sorting.
Every Thursday, volunteers arrive at the church to organize the distribution of food. Clients choose from a variety of items such as bread, fruits, vegetables, canned or frozen fish, other meats, personal care items, laundry soap and toilet paper.
At the final station, a volunteer offers a copy of The Great Controversy to interested clients, along with a Bible if requested. “There is hope in our world,” she tells people. Over the past three months, the food bank has distributed 200 copies of The Great Controversy.
Several interviewed clients related how they learned about this food bank. One client said, “My mom’s sister told me about the food bank on Thursdays here at the church.” While another added, “I found out about this in a Facebook post.” A third person chuckled, “I saw the sign as I was walking down the street.”
Clients use IDs to register; however, an ID is not required. Recently, someone just out of jail who didn’t have any photo ID was still able to be served. Registration data provides accountability in the use of resources.
The food bank is always recruiting volunteers. Without them, services could not be provided. The food bank served 22 clients in November 2022. That number grew to 72 clients in January 2023. Posting on Facebook has brought awareness and now the food bank serves 80–130 clients per week.
With more than 16 years of serving the Anchorage community, God has grown this outreach effort with volunteers from area churches coming together to meet an ever-growing community need.