Hunger in Alaska
Anchorage Food Shortage
No one should go hungry in Anchorage, Alaska. The COVID-19 pandemic exasperated an already dire hunger and poverty situation in Anchorage. According to Feeding America (2018), there were 30,084 food-insecure people in Anchorage Muni as of 2018, among which were 11,790 children. The Anchorage food insecurity rate was 11.5% among adults, 16.1% among children, and 10% among seniors, whereas the annual food shortage shortfall was $21,500,000. The COVID-19 pandemic badly hit working Anchorage residents, and the middle class began to struggle due to the loss of jobs and businesses. Hence, more hunger among hard-working Anchorage residents and the need for more food distribution.
Alaska-Wide Food Shortage
In any given week, 6,300 Alaska households turn to Food Bank of Alaska's network of food pantries, soup kitchens, senior centers, and other programs for food assistance. An estimated 51,900 unique households or almost 155,000 people are served annually.
The face of hunger is changing: 32% are children under 18, and 13% seniors aged 60 and older. Additionally, 23.3% of households include at least one veteran, and 2.6% are currently serving in the military.
Many hungry people are part of the "working poor:" 60% worked for pay in the last 12 months, and 43% worked for pay in the last four weeks. Those working often face underemployment and are more likely to be part-time. Of those not working, 21% are retired, and 69% cannot work due to disability.
What was once an emergency is now chronic: 66% of Alaskans using our partner food distribution network tell us that they expect to keep needing food supply help for the foreseeable future just so they can make ends meet every month.
Many clients are educated: 87% have a high school diploma or GED; 35% have education beyond high school. Additionally, 7% of households include an adult student.
Hunger impacts health: 26% of households report at least one member with diabetes, and 47% include someone with high blood pressure.
Rising costs in health care create hardship for hungry Alaskans: 34% have no health insurance of any kind, including Medicaid (survey conducted before ACA implementation), and 56% of households report having unpaid medical bills.
Hunger and poverty often go hand in hand: 53% of clients served have incomes that are at or below the federal poverty level ($15,510 or less for a household of two).
Federal program participation: 45% of households participate in SNAP (Food Stamps), but 26% report that their benefits last only one week each month or less. 20% of clients not participating in SNAP cite believing they are not eligible as the reason.
Hungry Alaskans are faced with difficult choices: A majority of client households report having to choose between paying for food and paying for medical care (56%), housing (53%), transportation (64%), and utilities (59%).
Families in need adopt coping strategies, such as eating food past expiration date (71%), purchasing processed, unhealthy, but cheap food (81%) or food indented or damaged packages (57%), and receiving help from family or friends (54%).
Clients want these food items most: Protein food items like meat (54%), fresh fruits and vegetables (53%), and dairy products such as milk, cheese, or yogurt (29%).
*All data is from the Hunger in America – Alaska Report 2014, conducted by Food Bank of Alaska and the Alaska Food Coalition. The study is based on 77 visits to Food Bank of Alaska partner agencies from Wrangell to Barrow. For the 2014 study, 619 clients were sampled with a 56% response rate. Feeding America, Hunger in America 2014 – Report for Food Bank of Alaska, Inc. August 2014.