Tuesday, June 4News That Matters

Alaska Aid Groups Urgently Await $4.5M in Assistance as Food Insecurity Increases

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Volunteers at the Lutheran Church of Hope in West Anchorage are working to help those affected by a statewide food security crisis. The Food Bank of Alaska is reporting unprecedented levels of food insecurity, with more than 10,000 residents waiting months for the state to approve and administer their food stamp benefits. The state is facing backlogs at the Division of Public Assistance, leading to increased reliance on food banks and pantries.

The rising cost of food, backlogs in processing food stamp benefits, and a decline in food donations have created a significant need for assistance across the state. Song agencies are reporting a major increase in demand, leading to concern about dwindling resources.

Agencies such as the Food Bank of Alaska have seen a drop in food supply, distributing 4 million less pounds of food in fiscal year 2023 than the previous year. In response to this growing crisis, Governor Mike Dunleavy’s proposed state budget includes $4.5 million in aid for food banks and pantries, which could help alleviate some of the pressure on these organizations.

Despite this proposed aid, there are still concerns about the impact of the ongoing backlogs on those waiting for benefits. The SNAP backlog has led to more Alaskans relying on Food Banks and pantries to feed their families. Advocates are helping clients navigate the application process, and while steps are being taken to end the backlog and prevent future occurrences, there’s skepticism about how quickly the proposed fixes will go into effect.

The unprecedented levels of food insecurity and disruptions in food supply have put a strain on volunteers and organizations working to provide help. It is clear that more needs to be done to address this crisis, as many Alaskans continue to struggle with food insecurity.

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