Alaskan anti-hunger leaders discuss challenges facing state food security with legislature


In Alaska, food security is an ongoing issue, with many in the state struggling to put food on the table and non-profits struggling to keep up with demand.

To acknowledge that reality, the state legislature recognizes this week as Food Security Week, and heard a presentation on Monday, February 12 from food banks and other leaders from around Alaska.

Presenters highlighted efforts to get food resources to those in the 49th state who need it, including the Emergency Food Assistance Program.

According to Ron Meehan, Director of Government Affairs with the Food Bank of Alaska, recent years have seen an unprecedented level of demand from the anti-hunger network in Alaska.

A variety of factors have led to a strain on food banks, including the higher price of food, fewer contributions from individual and corporate donors, and less food from federal programs.

During the event, the presenters explored how the backlog of applications to the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, or SNAP, has contributed to the increased demand for food bank services. “It’s a lifeline to nearly 100,000 Alaskans. It was approximately 92,000 individuals in FY2022. It’s a really modest benefit, but makes an enormous difference in making sure that Alaskans in need have food to eat. It also acts as a key economic driver, generating an estimated $1.50 in the economy for every dollar spent using SNAP. It’s particularly powerful for local businesses and in communities off the road system, and of course over this last year, with the ongoing backlog, we’ve seen really the impact that this has on families’ abilities to feed themselves,” Meehan said.

However, it was not all bad news, as Meehan discussed a allocation of $1.68 million dollars from the Alaska Department of Health to food banks across the state, including the Fairbanks Community Food Bank.