WASILLA— Kids Kupboard Executive Director, Lynette Ortolano recently participated in a question and answer interview to discuss her nonprofit organization’s current efforts and plans for the future.
How are things in general?
“Things are going good. It’s busy. It’s holiday time. In addition to the regular programming, the feeding and the meals and stuff, people are feeling more generous so they’re reaching out, ‘can we donate eggs?’ or ‘can we donate turkeys?’ and that sort of thing. Folks that are reaching out because it’s that time of year, we’re finding that once they come in contact with us they find out new things about us, like, ‘we had no idea you guys did that much stuff.’ It’s kinda nice just making relationships and letting people know about what Kids Kupboard does and how many kids we reach and how we can help.”
What do your operations look like during the wintertime?
“We continue to make sure we’re distributing meals with our mobile routes across the Mat-Su and to our partner agencies… We have lots of donations, especially in the winter. Depending on what they are, we give the kids extra. We send them food to get them through their whole weekend. We’ll send home turkeys if we have a huge excess of turkeys leftover from Thanksgiving. Then, we’ll share them with families because we know they’re shuffling… We’ve made these deliveries to Blood and Fire, Palmer Food Bank, and Frontline Mission in the last few weeks. We want to make sure we’re sharing food with agencies before it goes bad.”
How many clients do you serve on a daily basis?
“We’re probably at about 400 a day right now. In the summertime, it’s about 2,000 a day… Even though it’s 400 meals a day, it’s seven days a week, and it’s important.”
Now, that you’ve been at it all these years, what’s been motivating you to keep going?
“I think, the results. I feel like it takes just one small thing, when a kid gives you a post-it note that says, ‘if it wasn’t for you I wouldn’t eat today.’ You don’t forget it. I know why. It drives you to. This is why we do what we do and we’re going to keep doing this.”
What are some of your long-term goals from here?
“Now that we’ve recently purchased this new facility, we’ve achieved several of our long-term goals, even to my surprise, earlier than I would have expected. We’ve been so fortunate to have the investment of really good funders and investors in our state. We’ve been able to accomplish things like securing a facility on 43 acres that will serve the Kids Kupboard mission for a lot of years to come. I think just finishing the build-out of our commercial kitchen is on our first list of goals. Once the build is complete, we can have an open house. We’d love to then incorporate a feeding site here where families can enjoy a meal once or twice a week… I think just continuing to identify where we need to be where kids need us. I think that’s it in a nutshell. I just want to reach one more child. I want to reach all of the kids who need us.”
Do you have anything coming up?
“We do. We have an ‘Out Skating Hunger’ event. It is an exhibition hockey match… It’s going to be at the MTA Events Center on Saturday, Jan 8. Kids Kupboard is going to be offering a spaghetti dinner. It’s only 5 to get in or a canned food item. Our spaghetti dinner is just at the decision of the recipient. It’s kind of donation-based. We’re pretty excited about that. All proceeds are coming back to Kids Kupboard.”
For more information about Kids Kupboard, call 907-357-5439 or visit kidskupboard.org.
Contact Mat-Su Valley Frontiersman reporter Jacob Mann at email@example.com