Hunger Coalition Braces for Lean Season


photo by Dev Khalsa

photo by Dev Khalsa

After the generosity and abundance of the holiday season, businesses often see a downturn. Subsequently, those in need begin to face the leanest time of year.

“The hunger season is upon us,” states a recent news release issued from the nonprofit Blaine County Hunger Coalition.

Last March, the Hunger Coalition saw 576 locals come through their lines at its mobile food bank—a record high—compared to their last high of 481 people in March 2011, the organization reported.

“Many reasons were thrown around for the large uptick in numbers—lack of snow being the biggest. This year, thankfully, the snow fell hard in December, but the Hunger Coalition is still bracing,” said Julie Molema, communications and development manager for the organization.

Molema said February starts the beginning of the “hunger season,” when need is at its highest and food donations plummet dramatically. Warehouse shelves typically become bare and thousands of locals have a tough time putting healthy food on the table.

“Early spring has typically been a very busy time for us in the past few years,” said Naomi Spence, associate director of the Hunger Coalition. “Many seasonal jobs depend on snow, and when we experience a dry period like this, those workers are hit hard with smaller paychecks and sudden layoffs.”

In 2014, the Hunger Coalition served 3,543 people, 16 percent of the county’s population. The coalition served 9,487 breakfasts and lunches through the Summer Food Program, and 957 bags of pet food were distributed through the Paws for Hunger program, a partnership with the Animal Shelter of the Wood River Valley.

Contributors to the Hunger Coalition can donate food, time or money.

“While the need is great, we are fortunate to live in a small enough community where it’s possible to ensure that no one goes hungry,” said Hunger Coalition Executive Director Jeanne Liston.

“Unlike bigger cities with vast amounts of hungry and homeless people, our supporters know that their gifts to the Hunger Coalition truly make an impact and are not just a drop in the bucket of endless need.”

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Atkinsons’ Markets and Albertsons both have yellow donation bins where community members can contribute non-perishable food items. Atkinsons’ Markets also sell “Stop Hunger Cards” at checkout stands, from which donations go directly to The Hunger Coalition.


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