Retreived from http://www.beanscafe.org

Lynn Ballew traveled from Boston to Alaska with her young daughter Leesie “Bean” Ballew for a summer adventure.  They fell in love with the state and made Alaska their home the next year, it was 1977.  Lynn had worked in soup kitchen in Boston as a volunteer and she recognized that Anchorage needed a place for the homeless.

In 1979 Lynn Ballew opened Bean’s Café in a small warehouse in downtown Anchorage.  They relocated to their current home in 1985.  The Bean’s Café has been a part of the Anchorage community for over 35 years and has served thousands of meals to Anchorage’s homeless population.



Retreived from http://www.beanscafe.org

The Children’s Lunchbox is a program within the Bean’s Café organization.  The program was started in 1998 and runs on food and monetary donation as well as volunteers.


Retrieved from http://www.thechildrenslunchbox.org

The Children’s Lunch Box delivers meals to schools and other programs.  They also serve meals from their hot meal kitchens in the Alaska Native Heritage Center and the Covenant House and supply weekend food packages that contain food for four meals.  Depending on the school the program provides breakfast, lunch, dinner, and snacks to elementary school children.  The weekend food program currently is available in five schools:

  • Mt.View Elementary
  • Muldoon Elementary
  • Williwaw Elementary
  • Creekside Elementary
  • Ptarmigan Elementary

The Children’s Lunchbox is neither a government nor federally sponsored program so they rely heavily on volunteers and donations.  The weekend food program has four corporate sponsors:  The Walmart Foundation, Conoco Phillips, Alaska USA Foundation, and The Block Foundation.

In addition to these corporate sponsors other smaller businesses, churches, civic groups, and even other kids have donated their time and money.

The Children’s Lunchbox has also partnered with the Special Education Department of Bartlett High Schools Work Maturity Skill Program where students help to put together the weekend food packages.  Students are also tasked with taking inventory, stocking and organizing the food.  The program provides “real world” work experience for the students and a sense of accomplishment for helping to provide more than 2,200 meals.

When school is out the program shifts its attentions to providing meals at various community locations in the city.  This summer the Children’s Lunchbox will serve summer meals in the following locations:

  • Alaska Native Heritage Center
  • Anthony’s Catholic Church
  • Spenard and Fairview Parks & Recreation Center
  • Muldoon Community Assembly
  • Goose Lake Park
  • Denali Family Services
  • Covenant House
  • Cook Inlet Tribal


  • Boys & Girls Club (both locations)
  • ASD Indian ED Alaska Youth Advocates
  • Hospice of Anchorage
  • YMCA
  • Salvation Army
  •  Lake Otis Elementary
  • Alaska
  • Mental Health Trust
  • Whaley School

The Executive Director of Bean’s Café Lisa Sauder views the Children’s Lunchbox program as a preventative branch of the Bean’s Café.  The hope is that if they can keep at risk kids healthy and fed they will not end up being clients of the Bean’s Café in the future.

The Children’s Lunch Box’s goal for the 2013/2014 school year (August 24th to May 22nd) is to serve 530 meals per day for 36 weeks and provide 2,600 Friday weekend bags each week, which is 374,400 meals.

The Children’s Lunch Box hopes to expand its program into all 16 Title I elementary schools in Anchorage and eventually provide meals to middle and high school students in need.


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