Community Food Assessment Report

Where we are now:

The Hunger Coalition and community partners wrapped up the first phase of the Blaine County Food Assessment (BCCFA) in early 2016 with the release of the BCCFA Report. Click on the links below for the executive summary and the full report. This information will be shared in February and March 2016 during presentations at each City Council and with the Blaine County Commissioners. Each community partner and participant in the project also received this report.

ExecsummaryCover Blaine County Community Food Assessment








The Hunger Coalition’s Community Food Assessment Manager, Lynea Petty, and the University of Idaho’s Extension Education, Lauren Golden, are coordinating the BCCFA’s next phase with community partners.  A steering committee meets monthly to network across the multiple parts of the food system. Working groups, tasked with achieving goals set with the steering committee’s oversight, gather approximately quarterly. Together, these collaborative groups are working to identify appropriate programming, policy, promotion and more to address our community food system meaningfully.

The Hunger Coalition strives to end hunger in our community by providing wholesome food, collaboration, education, and advocacy. From 2014 – 2015, The Hunger Coalition, along with two AmeriCorps VISTA members and assistance of the Public Policy Research Center at Boise State University, undertook a community food assessment. Research focused on four areas of the food system: food production, food waste and recovery, food security and food consumption.

Feeding America’s statistics have shown that we are currently helping 84% of the food insecure population in the community, but our numbers show something very different. From 2012 to 2013 our services increased 32%; during the first six months of 2014 a 55% increase of families and individuals occurred, and the number of seniors and those 18 years and younger has soared.

The food assessment takes a more detailed look at the underlying social, economic, and institutional factors in a community that affect the quantity and quality of available food and its affordability in relation to the sufficiency of financial resources available to obtain it.

The food assessment shows us the true number of the food insecure population in our community as well as the barriers that keep people from accessing The Hunger Coalition’s and other organizations’ services. The assessment helped build relationships and define future goals; these community based solutions and relationships will be putting the resources in place to help break the cycle of poverty we face.

Stakeholders from different areas of the community worked to develop a joint agenda and action plan. The team used the USDA’s toolkit which looks at community demographics, community food resources, household food security, food resource availability and affordability, and community food production resources.

Food Security-Initial Survey Results

Objective: Three metrics (accessibility, availability, affordability) to quantify local food insecurity.

Methods: mail-in survey; focus groups

Outcomes: According to the results from our investigation into price comparison among grocery stores and from national GIS data, Blaine County has food readily available that meets the minimum USDA standards for a healthy diet, and most people live close enough to a grocery store to be able to access that food. Even in Carey, where there were assumptions of a food desert, an Adamson’s market and another gas station provide minimal groceries and fresh produce.

However, an interesting theme emerged from our focus group in Carey – although they do not have large markets with a wide variety of produce, Carey residents adopt a communal attitude towards food. Many residents grow their own food and share it with their neighbors, or barter for other items.

Our community food survey revealed that 14.1% of households are food insecure in Blaine County, with an additional 5% of households classified as “marginally food secure.” Marginally food secure is a term that describes people who engaged in some kind of coping strategy because they did not have enough money or enough food at some point this past year, but did not engage in them frequently enough to warrant a food insecure household.

coping strategy by income

Continue reading

Food Consumption-Initial Survey Results

Objective: Investigate consumer understanding and values about food production and sourcing.

Methods: Mail survey; dot survey at farmers markets; focus group discussions with seniors, Carey residents, food insecure with kids, and without kids

Outcomes: Healthy food was universally important to all of our participants. However, based on input from our focus groups, the term “healthy” was loaded and highly individual. For some families, healthy meant feeding their kids a full meal and having just enough rice leftover to eat themselves. For others, growing their own food or raising animals that they consumed were the cornerstones of healthy food. Here are a few findings from the mail-in survey; many more will be included in the final report:

  • When making purchases, respondents, on average, ranked each of the following items – “affordable food,” “food that tastes good,” and “healthy food” as “very important.”
  • Purchasing food grown in a way that is good for the environment was ranked between “somewhat” and “very important.”
  • When purchasing food, survey respondents ranked “convenient to prepare,” “local,” “GMO-free” and “benefits the local economy”, on average, as “somewhat important.”
  • Purchasing organic food was ranked between “not very important” to “somewhat important.”
  • About 70% of our sample believes that “local food” means food that is grown or sourced either within a 100 mile radius of Blaine County or from anywhere in Southern Idaho.
  • 4% of survey respondents grow food in their garden. Of the remaining 56.9% of respondents who do not currently grow food in their garden, 47.5% would be somewhat or very interested in learning about growing their own food.

why do you shop at farmers' market_rev Continue reading

Food Waste and Recovery-Initial Survey Results

Objective: Describe food waste and recovery options in Blaine County

Methods: interviews with stakeholders

Outcomes: Clear Creek provides curbside trash and recycling – plastics #1-5, metal cans and mixed paper excluding corrugated cardboard, and they are piloting food waste recovery on a commercial scale. Winn’s Composting is the only composter in Blaine County that is state certified. There are individuals who collect grease and turn it into bio-fuel. Grocery stores employ several diverting options – giving to employees, food banks, as well as community members who voluntarily pick it up and use it for composting or livestock feed. Blaine County Schools send food waste to Winn’s Composting, and employ a “share table” where unused food is placed and students can take items from the table if they are still hungry. Blaine County is managed as part of a Solid Waste District, which includes eight counties, but we also have our own rules regarding waste management.

Food-Waste_low1Some of the barriers that our interviewees encountered are revenue and prohibitively high start-up costs (one interviewee cites $800K for the first two years of a composting operation). A County Commissioner states that the County would be very supportive of expanding food waste recovery programs, though they do not have the financial resources to do this solely on their own. Opportunity exists to work with a contractor to lease lands, and look at other financial incentives. Time and water rights were other major barriers – groundwater rights present a huge hurdle to obtain, and they have limits on how much water you can use, depending on your permit. Additionally, it often takes a lot of time and skill to convert waste into bio fuel or other high value outputs, and the product yield may be low compared to the time invested. Continue reading

Food Production-Initial Survey Results

Objective: Work in concert with University of Idaho to identify and quantify barriers to growing and sourcing food locally.

Methods: Stakeholder interviews; forthcoming University of Idaho survey.

Hope Garden 2014_025Outcomes: The “Production” section is forthcoming. We are also working with the University of Idaho on their upcoming large scale, well-funded project to learn more about barriers and opportunities to farming in Idaho. The University of Idaho survey was conducted with local vendors and their online producer survey will launch November 15, 2015. The CFA qualitative interviews are in progress with Blaine County producers, and the report will be completed by the end of November. Continue reading

Local Food Survey in the Mail

The Hunger CoalitionThe Hunger Coalition, along with the help of two AmeriCorps Vistas and a diverse group of Community Food Assessment team members is conducting a local food survey.

The survey will be distributed in the mail to a random sample of Blaine County residents. The survey will touch on questions about how the community values its food, the importance of where and how our food is produced, and it will help The Hunger Coalition better understand how people cope with economic stress, and how those strategies impact their food choices within the county. Surveys will arrive in mailboxes at the end of June.

Don’t worry if you don’t receive a survey in the mail. The Hunger Coalition will be distributing surveys online, throughout neighborhoods and at community locations throughout the county this summer. Dot surveys on local food will also be set up. “These dot surveys are a fun, interactive way for the community to share their thoughts on local food,” said Emily Slike, Vista Outreach Coordinator.

“There has never been a survey like this in our area,” said Brooke McKenna, Director of Operations at The Hunger Coalition. “This survey could help provide data to develop new policy and programs regarding local food and food security,” added McKenna. “If you are one of the lucky ones to get a survey mailed to your household, please fill it out and share your opinions—this is one of those rare times where your responses will be used directly to shape the future of the food system in Blaine County,” said McKenna.

If you are interested in helping out with distributing surveys through door to door or community tables, helping conduct dot surveys, or are interested in other volunteer opportunities contact Emily at 208-721-4884 or

The Hunger Coalition strives to end hunger in our community by providing wholesome food to those in need and by promoting solutions to the underlying causes of hunger through collaboration, education and advocacy. For more information, visit



CFA Advisory Team Spotlight: Ruby Garcia


Ruby Garcia

Ruby’s family has been commuting to work to the valley since the early 1990’s. She decided to move to the valley in 2001 after being employed at a local preschool that allowed her to work and enjoy time with her daughter at the same time.

Since then, she has enjoyed every adventure in the valley – moving from preschool, to banking, to finding her home at St. Luke’s Center for Community Health as the Bilingual Outreach Coordinator. Ruby’s girls and the responsibility of their future is the greatest adventure this life has given her. Food is important to Ruby’s family and a crucial piece to this community, but it almost feels like it’s out of reach for some of our local residents. To Ruby this valley is seen by many as a high-end resort community. Because of this they sometimes forget that hard working people still live here and cannot always afford the prices that are set for healthy food.


Ruby’s two lovely daughters.

Being a part of the Blaine County Community Food Assessment has given Ruby the opportunity to learn more about the overall look of the food insecurity that we are currently living in and to be a part of finding healthy choices for all parties involved. She believes that the CFA will help to uncover some of the insecurities we face today and facilitate ideas to, as a community working together, overcome them.

CFA Advisory Team Spotlight: Kathryn Guylay


Kathryn hiking near Stanley at Bridal Veil Falls.

Kathryn Guylay is the Executive Director of Nurture and author of the upcoming book The Smile Advantage: How to succeed in work, life and health, even when you’re headed for the cliff. Kathryn is a radio talk show host on KDPI 89.1 Ketchum where she shares inspiration and ideas for the health and wellness of children and families.

Kathryn and her family moved to the valley in 2011 to be closer to nature and to leave the “life in the fast lane” of Metro Chicago. Her family is still in awe every day by the beautiful mountain views, and they all exclaim every day how wonderful the air smells here!

Kathryn wanted to be a part of the Community Food Assessment (CFA) because our valley has a unique opportunity to create a huge change because we are so small yet so full of amazing people. Why does she think the CFA is important? “Food is important, our earth is important, all the living creatures of this planet are important,” said Kathryn. “We are all interconnected,” smiled Kathryn.

SVHalf_2014 246

Finishing the 2014 Sun Valley Half Marathon as a family–Kathryn poses with her husband Jeff, son Alexander (12) and daughter Elena (14). Photo credit: Hank Dart


CFA Advisory Team Spotlight: Julie Carney

IMG_1489Julie Carney is the social worker at Wood River High School. She was born in Southern California and moved to the valley with her parents, John and Sue Stoneback and her sister Sharyl, in 1978 when she was 11 years old.  After graduating from Wood River High School, she began her undergraduate education at University of Idaho, and she eventually ended up at The University of California Los Angeles where she received her Bachelor’s degree in psychology in 1991. In 1996 she received her master’s in social work. Julie then continued on and became licensed in Idaho as a licensed clinical social worker. Continue reading