The Hunger Coalition Prepares for the ‘Hunger Season’

Food Bank 2014_011When Spring arrives, The Hunger Coalition braces. In March alone last year, The Hunger Coalition distributed 616 food boxes, second highest to November’s record 757 food boxes. This year, The Hunger Coalition is preparing for even higher numbers.

Many people wonder ‘How can people be hungry in this valley?’ The fact that many individuals and families just don’t make enough money to cover all of their expenses is the main reason, and is explained further in the ALICE Report recently released by the United Way of the Pacific Northwest.

ALICE, which stands for Asset Limited, Income Constrained, Employed, takes a close look at those households living above the Federal Poverty line, but not earning enough to make ends meet. According to ALICE, the annual household survival budget in Blaine County is $20,328 for a single adult and $67,176 for a family of four. Many of The Hunger Coalition clients make well below that amount, forcing them to receive food assistance. In 2013, 35% of Blaine County’s 9,205 households were ALICE or living in poverty. Continue reading

Food for Fines at The Hailey Public Library


The Hailey Public Lifoodforfinesbrary announces its first ever “Food for Fines” food drive for The Hunger Coalition. Now through February 29, library patrons with overdue fines can exchange non-perishable or canned goods for overdue fines to help local families in need.

One can of food is equal to $1.00 in fines.

“Food for Fines is a great way to remove any overdue fines on our patrons’ accounts, but more importantly, the initiative turns what could be a negative – overdue fines and limited access to our library, into a positive: helping others. It’s a win-win,” said LeAnn Gelskey, Director of the Hailey Public Library. Continue reading

The Blaine County Food Assessment Report is Ready!

ExecsummaryCoverThe Blaine County Community Food Assessment (BCCFA) report on our local food system is published, and available online here. The Executive Summary is available here. Also watch for presentations at City Council and County Commissioner meetings during February and March.

The BCCFA team of local organizations and individuals researched Blaine County’s food production, consumption patterns, food waste and recovery, and food security over the course of 2015. The group will continue to work together in the food system framework. Many moving parts need Blaine County Community Food Assessmentto be coordinated to achieve bold goals such that food access, healthy diets and sustainable farming work together to promote greater health and quality of life for all.

The project grew from The Hunger Coalition’s interest in food insecurity rates, and the community’s interest in local food system development. The report provides a critical tool for community members pursuing opportunities to localize the food system: it can support grant applications, be used as baseline information to continue research, and it provides recommendations to get the ball rolling on projects. Continue reading

The Hunger Coalition Wins Idaho’s Brightest Star Award

Brightest Stars Winner-3_johnLast week, The Hunger Coalition was honored to win the “Idaho’s Brightest Star Award”, presented by Serve Idaho and the Governor’s Commission of Service and Volunteerism.

The awards ceremony, held in Boise on January 21st, recognized Idaho’s “unsung heroes” who volunteer tirelessly on behalf of children and families. The Hunger Coalition was one of 10 finalists and the only organization nominated in the Wood River Valley. Board member John Kahm accepted the award on behalf of The Hunger Coalition. Serve Idaho promotes collaborative efforts among private and non-profit organizations, schools, and state and local government agencies to advance national service programs and volunteerism throughout the state. Continue reading

Empty Bowls event raises funds for The Hunger Coalition

Join us for the 6th Annual Empty Bowls Event emptybowls_2016_poster_finalon Sunday, January 17th.

 Hunger is a community-wide challenge affecting more people than you might realizeeven in a wealthy community like ours. To help raise awareness and funds to combat hunger locally, Boulder Mountain Clayworks, The Hunger Coalition and the Presbyterian Church of the Big Wood are hosting the 6th Annual Empty Bowls event on Sunday, January 17 from 12 noon – 2 pm at the Presbyterian Church of the Big Wood.

During this unique community event, attendees purchase a one-of-a-kind ceramic bowl for $20, then fill the bowl with delicious soups, salads, chili, bread and dessert—all donated by local chefs and caterers. Thanks to Boulder Mountain Clayworks, there will be more than 300 hand-crafted and hand-painted bowls from professional and amateur artisans to select from this year.

“Empty Bowls is a great way to show support for community members in need,” said Jeanne Liston, Executive Director of The Hunger Coalition. “Boulder Mountain Clayworks’ staff and volunteers work tirelessly throwing and making bowls, recruiting volunteers and restaurants, and ensuring the event goes off without a hitch,” added Liston. “It is a pleasure to partner with them and the Church of the Big Wood on this event to help feed our community’s hungry while enjoying a communal meal–AND everyone gets to take home a beautiful, locally made bowl!”

Proceeds will benefit the thousands of Blaine County residents who receive food assistance and related support from The Hunger Coalition every year. Winter months can be especially difficult for families struggling to make ends meet, as higher heating bills put additional pressure on household budgets. For the cost of one bowl, The Hunger Coalition can provide more than a day’s worth of healthy, nourishing meals for a family of three.

Empty Bowls takes place in the Presbyterian Church of the Big Wood’s cafeteria and features gourmet soups, crisp salads, hearty chili, fresh breads and delicious desserts from local restaurants and caterers including: Atkinsons’ Markets, Big Belly Deli, Bigwood Bread, CK’s Real Food, The Haven, il Naso, Mahoney’s, Perry’s, Sun Valley Company, Cornerstone Bar and Grill, Ketchum Grill, Enoteca, Knob Hill Inn, Starbucks, Vintage Restaurant, and many more.

Bring your family and friends to Empty Bowls and enjoy a truly memorable and meaningful meal. Together, we can ensure that everyone in the community has enough healthy food to eat throughout the year.

The Presbyterian Church of the Big Wood is located at 100 Saddle Road, across from the YMCA in Ketchum. All are welcome. Admission price is the purchase of a $20 bowl. For more information, contact The Hunger Coalition at (208) 788-0121.

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


The Hunger Coalition Receives $1,000 Grant from Idaho Community Foundation

Hope Garden 2014_026The Hunger Coalition has received $1,000 from the Donald W. and Gretchen K. Fraser Fund, and the Jim and Barbara Cimino Fund in the Idaho Community Foundation to support the numerous programs and that are crucial for local families’ success.

“This is a wonderful gift from the Idaho Community Foundation,” said Jeanne Liston,  Executive Director of The Hunger Coalition. “It will assist with the record numbers of people that have reached out for food assistance recently,” added Liston.

The Hunger Coalition is proud to distribute fresh fruits and vegetables, in addition to meat, dairy, grains, beans and other staple food options at the three food distributions every week. “We believe that healthy food, including fresh fruits and vegetables are vital to the success of community members in our Valley,” said Liston. “Healthy food helps with a healthy mind,” added Liston.

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

The Hunger Coalition Receives $20,000 Grant from Howard Family Foundation

Food Bank 2014_029The Hunger Coalition recently received a $20,000 grant from the Gordon R. and Mary M. Howard Family Foundation to support its mission of providing food to struggling community members.

This is the fourth consecutive year that the Howard Family Foundation has provided grant funding to The Hunger Coalition. Kathleen Phelan Britt recommended the donation through her family foundation. The grant will assist The Hunger Coalition’s food programs, including: the Mobile Food Bank, Snack Pack Program, The Hope Garden, Summer Food Program and the Infant Formula Initiative.

“We are deeply honored to have the continuous, generous support of the Howard Family Foundation,” said Jeanne Liston, Executive Director of The Hunger Coalition. “Their gift will go a long way toward ensuring local families have nutritious food on their tables.”

The Hunger Coalition holds three weekly food distributions in Ketchum, Hailey and Bellevue. Additional programs address healthy cooking, nutrition education and assisting children in need. “We served 3,543 people in 2014, and over half of them are children,” said Liston. “We are committed to ensuring no one goes hungry in our community.”

Cooking Matters – Silver Creek High School 2015


Last day of class – Extreme Food Makeover Competition!


Last day of class – Extreme Food Makeover Competition!


Last day of class – Extreme Food Makeover Competition!


Last day of class – Extreme Food Makeover Competition!


Shopping for ingredients for the cooking competition.


Students learn how to make a healthy breakfast omelette.


Silver Creek High School students learn how to make a healthy breakfast omelette with fresh vegetables.


Graduation day!


Cooking Matters instructor, Sharon Dohse, shares a laugh with Silver Creek High School students.


Silver Creek High School students making a healthy spaghetti meal.

This fall, the Cooking Matters® classes (taught in conjunction with the Idaho Foodbank) were taught to Silver Creek High School 11th and 12th graders. “Cooking Matters®” is a 6-week course that teaches individuals, families and kids how healthy cooking can be delicious, gratifying and most importantly – reasonably priced.

Thanks to a $6,377 grant from the St. Luke’s Wood River Foundation, these cooking and nutrition classes are possible.

“I loved these kids – they were so excited to learn about cooking healthy meals!” said Sharon Dohse, Cooking Matters® instructor. “I was impressed with the questions these students had about nutrition labels and about processed food in general,” added Sharon. “They learned a lot about what choices to make when going grocery shopping and on the last day of class, we had a cooking competition, where Kate Metzger, Executive Chef at il Naso, Ashton Wilson from the BCRD, and local caterer, Esta Hornstein were the judges,” added Sharon.

“We believe that The Hunger Coalition’s work aligns with the mission of the SLWR Foundation, which is to accelerate the advancement of innovative programs and services that fundamentally improve healthcare experiences in our community,” said Megan Thomas, Chief Development Officer at the St. Luke’s Wood River Foundation.

Cooking Matters® is a year-round nutrition education program at The Hunger Coalition. Upcoming classes in 2016 include a segment teaching the VOICE II students (kids 18-21 with disabilities). “I can’t wait to teach the VOICE II students next year,” said Sharon. “They are an engaged group of kids, with a thirst for learning–by doing,” added Sharon.

By participating in “Cooking Matters®” classes, students receive a dish to consume during each class, a bag of free ingredients for select classes, hands-on learning, text book, graduation certificate and gift bag provided upon completion of the course. To graduate, students must attend four of the six sessions.


Shopping for ingredients for the cooking competition.


Silver Creek High School students learning how to make healthy breakfast omelette.

The nutrition segment of each class is taught by Laurie McBride, a registered dietitian from St. Luke’s Wood River Medical Center. During each class, a healthy dish is cooked that exemplifies the nutrition lesson. “It was great talking about nutrition, and helping students decipher nutrition labels,” said Laurie. “They definitely understood the value of looking at labels and making good choices when shopping for food,” she added.

“This class is a perfect fit for our Big Picture Learning school,” said Silver Creek High School principal, Mike Glenn. “It is a workshop format packed with dense learning and immediately applicable. When students go home and cook for their mom, brothers and sisters or guardian and share their new knowledge about healthy eating, this is very impactful.” added Mike.

“Sharon is patient and caring in her approach to teaching. This hands-on approach is so effective in teaching this population of students. She has rallied many community resources and folks to come in and share their love of cooking to our students and the results speak for themselves- student engagement.” said Mike.

Nutrition education taught by Laurie McBride, a registered dietitian from St. Luke’s Wood River Medical Center.



tgiving turkeyThe Hunger Coalition helps local families experience the celebration of the holiday season

Slack is here and your work hours just got cut. Are you wondering how you’ll pull off Thanksgiving dinner this year, with only a few dollars left after being paid? The Hunger Coalition wants to help fill your table.

Holiday feasts are meant to add comforting contrast to the long, cold days of winter. If you’re facing an empty holiday table this year, know that your community is here to help.

Thanks to generous donors, The Hunger Coalition is able to provide Thanksgiving Baskets full of wonderful holiday foods: even pie.  This year, The Sage School is partnering with Syringa Mountain School, Community School and Pioneer Montessori School to bake 400 homemade pies to accompany every Thanksgiving Basket.  This level of commitment is inspiring and deeply appreciated! Continue reading

On The Table!


The Blaine County Community Food Assessment has completed phase II of the assessment, and would like to share its findings with the public. Join the Food Assessment team for ‘On the Table’, a free event with presentations on local food production, food waste and recovery, food security and food consumption. The team is wrapping up research on a variety of topics related to the local food system. As part of this research, over 1,100 community members offered feedback on local food and food security during our August survey. That number is a true testament to the passion of Blaine County residents, and the strong desire to improve our food system in ways that benefit our entire community.

To learn more about our efforts we invite you to visit with us at the Hailey Grange on October 17th, from 5:30 – 7:30 p.m. In addition to discussing the survey results, we will share results from focus groups, canvassing, dot surveys and stakeholder interviews. Light fare and refreshments will be served during the event.

This research is the first step in what the assessment team envisions to be a collaborative and fruitful process. What we learn will inform our future endeavors. As many have voiced, local food is just a means to an end: it is useful only if it delivers real social, economic and environmental benefits. Therefore, our collaborative group will work to identify appropriate programming, policy, promotion and more to address our community systems meaningfully.