Bean's Cafe to focus on daytime food services, won't provide beds this winter

Bean's Cafe sign
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ANCHORAGE (KTUU) - Anchorage's well-known soup kitchen organization Bean's Cafe will not be providing beds or serving as a nighttime shelter during this winter season.

According to Lisa Sauder, executive director at Bean's, the decision comes after notice from its insurance provider: "We were dropped. [Our insurance provider] has decided not to cover our organization due to the risk factors involved in our business."

The business, which Sauder says has been predominantly based around feeding the hungry since 1979, expanded last year to also house the homeless, providing dozens of beds for an already expanding homeless population.

"Last winter, we were approached by the United Way and the Municipality to open up for emergency cold weather shelter, and we were able to do that last year," said Sauder. "However, there's still a need in the community."

Sauder said that they were notified on Tuesday that their insurance provider would be dropping them due to the organization's shifting services into housing. According to Sauder, this news has forced the organization to reflect on its core mission of feeding the hungry.

"It's been kind of a game-changer for us as well, and having us re-focus on what our core mission is," Sauder said.

Bean's will continue to help their partners in the community find places for individuals in need this winter, but it won't be at Bean's for the foreseeable future, as a new insurer is likely to bring with it higher premiums.

"We are confident that we will find another insurer. But it will come at an increased cost to our agency, and in this economic climate right now, that is very difficult," Sauder said.

As for which groups will provide beds, and the overall goal of helping those who find themselves on the street this winter, Sauder says there's some progress being made.

"The long-term goal is to get everybody into permanent housing," Sauder said. "For example, today, with partners for re-entry, we were able to send nine clients over there who will be housed tonight."

Sauder said Bean's, and many other homeless organizations, are looking at all options at this point.

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