by Carol Stirling
According to Idaho Kids Count, 30-50% of the people in Idaho have to choose between paying their bills (i.e., utilities, rent, medicine) and buying food. Organizations such as Idaho Hunger Relief, Idaho Interfaith Roundtable Against Hunger and the Idaho Food Bank are working to address hunger in Idaho.
Idaho Interfaith Roundtable fought for and won a bill to implement a grocery tax credit. People who pay income taxes are able to get a grocery tax credit and those who pay no taxes get a refund each year. Idaho is one of only seven states in the U.S. that has a sales tax on food.
The Idaho Hunger Relief Task Force held a summit on hunger and food insecurity. Some of their goals are:
• Increase participation in the Summer Meal Program for food-insecure Idaho children.
• Develop an Idaho Food Stamp Outreach Plan.
• Create a comprehensive awareness/media campaign for nutrition education and benefit assistance programs.
The Idaho Food Bank has programs such as:
- The Backpack Project works with schools to identify chronically hungry children who will benefit from the Backpack Program. Backpacks are distributed on Fridays with food for 2 breakfasts, 2 lunches, 2 dinners and 2 snacks. Included foods are nonperishable, child friendly and easy to prepare. Currently 2,000 backpacks are distributed each week, but there is a need for at least 7,000.
- The Mobile Pantry Program distributes dry and frozen food to underserved, usually rural communities. This program helps communities that have no access to or difficulty accessing emergency food.
- The Grocery Alliance Program is a partnership with grocers throughoutIdaho. Grocers donate food that is close to the sell-by date and is safe for human consumption.
- Idaho Community Gardens encourages new gardens, helps diversify gardens, exchanges knowledge and promotes cooperation.
~Carol is a member of Boise First Congregational UCC. The congregation is exploring becoming a UCC Just Peace church. Our focus for the last few months has been peace in the community and addressing food injustice in our world today.