Wednesday, January 20, 2021
Hunger Coalition Still Feeding Double
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Robin Leavitt is among those who has been a faithful supporter of The Hunger Coalition.
   
Monday, December 21, 2020
 

STORY AND PHOTO BY KAREN BOSSICK

As the year 2020 draws to a close, The Hunger Coalition is continuing to feed more than twice as many families as it was before the coronavirus pandemic.

Wood River Valley residents were stressed by economic pressures before the pandemic, and conditions have only gotten worse, said Kristin McMahon, communications and development supervisor.

Before the pandemic, more than half of Blaine County residents were living in ALICE (Asset-Limited-Income-Constrained-Employed) households, according to the United Way. The culprits: the high cost of living here combined with low wages.

For comparison’s sake, a typical American family of four spent an average $246 for a week’s worth of groceries in August, according to the Census Bureau’s Household Paulse Survey. In Blaine County where food costs are 50 percent higher than the national average, that same family of four would pay $369 for a week’s worth of groceries, according to The Hunger Coalition.

“People living in ALICE households are the people who power our workforce, our friends and neighbors,” said Jeanne Liston, executive director of The Hunger Coalition. These are people who were living paycheck to paycheck even before the pandemic and whose wellbeing now hangs in the balance.”

Valley leaders must address the root causes of hunger, including wages, housing, healthcare and immigration rights, said McMahon.

Until they do, The Hunger Coalition is grateful for local people who give monetary donations and volunteer help. In non-COVID times, more than 400 volunteers help out in a variety of ways, including sorting food in The Hunger Coalition’s warehouse, entering data, organizing food drives, teaching workshops and harvesting vegetables at the Bloom Farm in Hailey.

“The good news is our community continues to step up in incredibly generous ways to ensure we can continue to get food to the people, despite this wild new normal,” said McMahon. “We’re incredibly grateful and hope to keep up the pace as we build a radically better community in the wake of crisis.”

To learn about ways to donate, check out The Hunger Coalition’s website at www.thehungercoalition.org. The organization also occasionally posts needs as they arise, such as the need for egg cartons, on its Facebook page at www.facebook.com/thehungercoalition5b/

The Hunger Coalition hopes to complete a new $6 million building near its current headquarters at 121 Honeysuckle St in Bellevue’s light industrial area.

The 13,000-square foot headquarters will triple the space the nonprofit organization currently has and will include two outdoor greenhouses, which will need a lot of volunteers when the pandemic is over. The new space also includes a commercial kitchen and dining space.

 

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