The Girdwood Food Pantry is affiliated with the Alaska Food Bank and administered by the United Methodist Church of Girdwood. The Alaska Food Bank provides much of the staples distributed, and local donations from Girdwood residents and restaurants help ensure fresh produce, household items, and children's meals. The church has a core group that administers the program's schedule, financials, and volunteers. This core group knows its regular clientele and provides attention to detail for those with food restrictions and dietary concerns. This level of customer service is appreciated among clients and emulated by volunteers who undergo a brief but thorough training before their shifts. Further the Girdwood Clinic participates to advertise the clinic's ability to connect clients with other beneficial social programs.
Recently, the Girdwood Rotary, its members, other service clubs, and the community at large stood up to help the Girdwood Food Pantry provide. As a result of the Mayor of Anchorage's Executive Orders, Girdwood's service industry population was left in need of nutritious and consistent meals. The number of clients increased from 50 monthly to 200 served weekly. On Wednesdays and Sundays, the Pantry hosts pick up services that adhere to the social distancing and sanitary guidelines in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. In March 2020, many local restaurants donated food items; the Alaska Food pantry's demand increased, too, so the Pantry sought private donations and alternate sources for staples.
The increased demand calculates to an average of $1,000 per week to adequately respond to needs. Private donors committed to further assistance, but in response to the expected economic impact of the COVID-19 pandemic to Girdwood and its service industry, the need will persist beyond the summer.
Girdwood Rotary sought a sanitary solution to provide a hot meal in early April and one club member and two friend volunteers for a Sunday distribution shift. Girdwood Rotary had one club member and one friend volunteer collect food and takeaway containers from local restaurants. The church's pastor, Nico Reijns, has been forthcoming with gratitude and information related to how the congregation and community at large has provided for those in need. In her role as President-Elect, Christina Hendrickson shared the Club's engagement, and was featured in a recent meeting among District leadership. As a result, the Anchorage South Rotary Club donated $500 to the Girdwood Food Pantry on our behalf and has offered to volunteer in future engagements.
Girdwood Rotary submits a $3,000 grant request for the 20-21 District Grant. Should the entirety be granted, our Club's match would provide $6,000 to the Girdwood Food Pantry. This would sustain the needs of its clients for 2 months, and the timing is ripe for an influx of monies based on the Rotary District 5010 grants' award schedule. Funds would be deposited into a Pantry-specific account, administered by the Church and its Elder leadership under a Memorandum of Agreement between the Church and Rotary. This District Grant request is supported by letters from the Church's Pastor and photos from recent engagements.
In addition to serving those in need, this donation provides a significant opportunity to increase the Club's position within the community. This visible project resonates with all walks of life; and thereby, perhaps may assist with membership recruiting efforts and other collaboration on projects and more.