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Ketchum Community Dinners Needs Help as Food Pantries Run Bare
Wednesday, October 25, 2023


Volunteers with Ketchum Community Dinners are seeking donations and grants to purchase chicken and other protein sources after donations from the Idaho Foodbank have dwindled.

The Idaho Foodbank has had trouble keeping its pantries stocked as inflation—high food and housing costs--continues to chip away at Idahoans’ ability to put food on the table. Additionally, federal pandemic-era food assistance programs, such as expanded SNAP benefits, are no longer available.

“The Idaho Foodbank cut back so we can’t rely on them for donations, especially protein, as we did in the past,” said Helen Morgus, one of the volunteers for Ketchum Community Dinners.

St. Thomas Episcopal Church volunteered to hand out free dinners curbside from 5 to 6 p.m. Wednesdays when the COVID pandemic forced the end of sit-down dining at the Presbyterian Church of the Big Wood. Volunteers started making and handing out the meals in August 2020 and they have not missed a week since, even though volunteers have had to endure snow and cold some of those weeks.

Volunteers make nice portions of beef stroganoff, mac n’ cheese bakes, chicken enchilada casseroles and more in the church’s tiny kitchen. They supplement each with a Hangar Bread roll and a homemade cookie and, occasionally, other donations they receive such as granola or yogurt.

“We got 300 pounds of chicken one time so we had to get creative finding all kinds of ways to make chicken taste good,” said Morgus.

A wide variety of people avail themselves of the dinners, including one woman who takes 10 dinners each week to Peruvians who arrived in the valley seeking asylum  last winter and don’t speak English. In August Ketchum Community Dinners ran out of meals by 5:30 p.m.

Volunteers show up from the Wood River Pickleball Alliance, St. Thomas Episcopal Church, Emmanuel Episcopal Church and Church of the Big Wood. The Yellow Jackets, also known as Guest Services workers, at Sun Valley Resort have helped out, as have mothers from the Sun Valley Community School.

“This aligns with what the Pickleball Alliance is all about—building community This is one of the best ways to build community,” said Lee Sponaugle, president of the Pickleball Alliance.

Passersby often stop to see what the volunteers are doing, giving the volunteers an “Attaboy” and “attagirl” when they learn of their mission.

“It’s an amazing feeling to see people walk up and to be able to give them something,” said Adam Taylor, another pickleball player. “We take a lot of granted in this town and this is a way to give back.”

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