May 5, 2023, Community Happenings

Climate Connection: Food Insecurity

In Alaska, 95% of purchased food is imported from outside the state. In the setting of disaster or supply chain interruptions, food insecurity results. This was evident in the Covid-19 pandemic and recurs in Sitka seasonally with the increase in visitors and seasonal workers. Inflation and increased shipping charges related to fossil fuel price volatility and availability make it more difficult for Sitka residents to afford nutritious imported food. The Alaska Food Security and Independence Task Force 2023 Report estimated that 48% of rural Southeast Alaska residents harvest game, with 79% using game as a protein source. Eighty percent of rural Southeast Alaskans harvest fish, with 95% using fish. Thus, wild food provides about 186 pounds of usable weight per person per year in rural Southeast Alaska. No figures are available for subsistence harvest of plants. Even subsistence harvest is more expensive with the cost of fuel for boating, and inflation of costs of ammunition and fishing equipment.

In Sitka, what is lacking is adequate local supplies of fresh fruit and vegetables for optimal health. This is the result of the paucity of garden and urban agriculture opportunities and the decreasing knowledge about subsistence gathering of berries and other forest products such as mushrooms and fiddleheads. The last Sitka-specific data was in 2014 in the Community Food Assessment Indicators Report, supported in part by the Sitka Health Summit. It documented that one in six Sitka residents was food-insecure and 766 received food stamps. Those receiving food pantry assistance from the Salvation Army numbered 229. In 2013, 7,243 lunches were served through soup kitchens. The report also noted that community food caches were non-existent in the event on an emergency, such as a tsunami affecting all grocery stores near sea level. There is also a concern that most stored food in Sitka households is frozen, which would be lost in the event of electrical power disruption. More than one-third of persons surveyed had less than one week of food stored in the event of emergency.

Later this year, a public health master’s degree candidate will be  updating the Community Food Assessment Indicators Report. Our community’s transition to a more self-reliant economy in a world with less fossil fuels requires such information and more attention to food security. Community gardens are one aspect of increasing food security. The bottleneck in food stamp receipts has exacerbated food insecurity. With personal and community gardens, we might organize planting a row for the needy, to be donated to the Salvation Army, Sitkans Against Family Violence, Sitka Tribe of Alaska, or the Farmers Market.  With the increase in tourist sales tax revenues, perhaps the Assembly might consider exempting food from taxation to lessen food insecurity and to lower cost of living. 

--Kay Kreiss, Transition Sitka


Unitarians Meet

‘‘What does Jesus mean to us today?” will be the discussion topic for “Let’s Talk” at Sunday’s meeting of the Sitka Unitarian Fellowship.

All are welcome. Gathering is at 10:30 a.m.; the program begins at 10:45. The Fellowship Hall is located at 408 Marine Street, with parking off Spruce Street.


Sawmill Creek

Road Updates

The Sitka Sawmill Creek Road resurfacing and pedestrian improvements project website has been updated with the following information:

Work on final project details will continue through June 15. Motorists should be aware of changing traffic patterns.

Electrical work will continue on flashing beacon poles and signage. Driveway approaches will be paved  and the roadway will be painted with striping during the week of May 29.

Parking will not be permitted on the roadway during work hours between 6:30 a.m. and 5:30 p.m.


Walk Southeast

Registration Open

Registration for Walk Southeast is open now at Registration closes May 7.

Individuals can walk, run or hike Southeast this summer without leaving the community. Track miles between May 1 and Sept. 1 and see what community you can reach. Those who walk at least 150 miles will be entered to win two round-trip tickets from Alaska Airlines. Participation is free.

Program details and information on how to register can be found at

For information, contact Parks and Recreation by emailing This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or call 907-747-4031.


Team Contest Set

For Salmon Derby 

A special prize being offered for the 68th Sitka Salmon Derby, donated by Halibut Point Marine Services, is the Chuck McGraw Jr. Memorial Team Fishing Contest.

Teams will be battling to take their daily king catch to the scales. Weigh- ins will be every day of the derby, May 27-29, June 3-4. A prize of $10,000 in cash is up for grabs – $2,000 for each day of derby fishing.

Team registration forms and information is available at Orion Sporting Goods, LFS Marine Supplies and on-line at under the Salmon Derby tab.

Team registration deadline is May 25.


National Bike

Month Activities

Slated in Sitka

May is National Bike Month, and the Sitka Cycling Club has a variety of local events to help people celebrate.

Some of the highlights this month include, a commuter bicycling class on May 6, several Saturdays of open hours at the Salty Spoke Bike Co-op, a bike movie night on May 10, a Sitka Cycling Club meeting on May 12, a community bike ride on May 13, National Bike To Work Week on May 15-19, National Bike To Work Day on May 19, Porch Fest bike tuneups on May 20, the Julie Hughes Triathlon on May 20, and a Trail Master Summit June 3-4.

The commuter bicycling class will meet at 2 p.m. Saturday, May 6, at the Salty Spoke Bicycle Cooperative at 1 Lincoln Street, next to the Cable House. Attendees should take a bike and helmet for the riding portion of the workshop. For more information text (650) 943-0055.

Bike Movie Night will be at 7:30 p.m. on May 10 at the Beak Restaurant. contact KK Prussian at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. for information.

The public is invited to join the Sitka Cycling Club for these events and more this month. A complete listing of events and times are at


SSD Policy

Panel to Meet

Sitka School District’s Policy Committee will meet 5 p.m. Wednesday, May 10, at the district office boardroom. The meeting is open to the public.

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At a Glance

(updated 5-30-2023)

By Sentinel Staff

The state Department of Health and Social Services has posted the following update on the number of confirmed COVID-19 cases in Alaska as of 12:15 pm Tuesday, May 30.

New cases as of Tuesday: 165

Total cases (cumulative) statewide – 298,078

Total (cumulative) deaths – 1,468

Case Rate per 100,000 – 22.64

To visit the Alaska DHSS Corona Response dashboard website click here.

COVID in Sitka

The Sitka community level is now "Low.'' Case statistics are as of Tuesday.

Case Rate/100,000 – 58.70

Cases in last 7 days – 5

Cumulative Sitka cases – 3,424

Deceased (cumulative) – 10

The local case data are from Alaska DHSS.






June 2003

Sitka Community Hospital board of directors has asked SEARHC to stop providing most health care services to non-beneficiary patients. “During the collaborative process SEARHC has said they’re happy to do anything they can do to help,” said SCH Administrator Bill Patten. “This is one of the things they can do – not provide services to non-beneficiaries.”



June 1973

What began 50 years ago in a Methodist parsonage in Cedar Rapids, Iowa, will be celebrated Sunday in Sitka. Les and Caroline Yaw’s four children invite the couple’s many, many friends to attend a golden wedding anniversary reception at the Centennial Building.