As you may know by now, this blog is dedicated to food, thoughts, and my hometown; Anchorage, Alaska.
Lately my mind has been flooded with support, love and the less supportive current politcal climate of the state. After sharing Benji’s Bakery & Cafe on all the platforms, I noticed I’m reaching more of the community than usual and the response has been nothing but positive. With this growing audience I feel it’s important to share my message and highlight Food for Thought’s purpose. To do so, I want to make sure I preface this article with the positive part of FFT’s mission: Share and celebrate small, local businesses in the community and encourage economic growth by empowering the consumer to vote with their dollar.
I’ve had the pleasure of witnessing so much of that growth this summer with all the expansions happening in town. Wild Scoops was able to open a new midtown Scoop Shop. Kava’s Pankcake House brought us another location on Fireweed. The Phonatic family blessed Anchorage with Benji’s, a new bakery & cafe serving up boba tea and bahn mi sandwiches with a Cali vibe. All of it truly has validated my belief that we don’t have to have deep pockets or be a shareholder to invest in our community.
Unfortunately, it feels like the people holding spaces with the most power have decided that Alaskans and healthy communities are no longer worth the investment. After Govenor Dunleavy released his 444 million dollar budget cut, I couldn’t escape the hopeless feeling knowing how heavy this will all hit the community- MY COMMUNITY. It seems these efforts to give Alaskans a “balanced budget” have blatantly unleveled the playing field with no regard for students, medicaid recipients, or Alaskans experiencing homelessness or domestic violence. Servely cutting funding (in some cases removing it entirely) to programs already struggling to serve Alaska’s robust needs to fufil the unrealistic, unsustainable promises this govenors campaign was won on, was this administration giving Alaskan’s the finger LOUD & CLEAR.
So, as I type this and stuff my face with garlic fries, I look around Bears Tooth and see my city. I see the different people from all over town brunching, or grabbing lunch. I see the college student hosting to pay for her tuition that was increased by 40% last year for a program that most likely wont be there next semester. I see the seven-year-old folding his napkin into a plane as I think about his class size that will double this fall. I think of the woman sleeping at the bus stop I passed on the way in and how her access to safe shelter and healthcare was traded for stroked ego and $3,000 in October.
Anchorage is so unique in the sense that we’re industrialized enough to have a need/want for unique businesses and specialty services but also small enough that factors like healthcare and housing have a direct effect on businesses and the economy. By voting with our dollar, we get to play a role in either funding an out-of-state coporation getting another tax cut, or supporting a local family. But what happens when it’s not worth it anymore? When university programs are no longer accredited. When cost of living outweighs your salary. Will the PFD be worth it when police departments can’t afford to respond to your robbery because they’re triaging the overwhelming calls to 3rd Avenue. Will it be worth it when there is no more worth celebrating? When there are nomore constituents to blindly lead?
This is my food for thought today. Please research and reachout to your repsresentives. Your community needs the support its govenring body refuses to provide.