Thanksgiving Baskets 2015

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Wow! What a day at The Hunger Coalition! On November 23, over 100 dedicated volunteers came together and helped distribute nearly 400 Thanksgiving Baskets to community members in need! Baskets were complete with a turkey, stuffing, potatoes, green beans, cranberries and a homemade pumpkin pie courtesy of The Sage School, The Community School, Syringa Mountain School and Pioneer Montessori.

Thank you to the generous donations at Albertsons checkstands and direct donations from the community to help make this happen!! Also thanks to all the volunteers and participants who came together to make this special day possible. What a wonderful feeling helping provide a hearty, delicious holiday meal to all of our community members!

Special shout out to The Community Library, Hailey Public Library and Bellevue Public Library for organizing a book giveaway for kids! Families could choose from a huge table of books to give their youngsters.

Here are some touching testimonials from Thanksgiving Basket recipients:

“It will make it possible for our family give thanks and remind us how lucky we are to be part of such a great community.”
“Living with a limited income and thanksgiving being my favorite holiday, I can receive food which I can’t buy.”
“My family and I will be able to have our first thanksgiving together as a family which would make our day – we recently lost my brother.”
“I am on a fixed disability income and its hard at times. We don’t have alot to work with. This will give us an opportunity to have a family dinner together. Leftovers can be stretched too.”

Happy Holidays everyone!!

 

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Assessing Hunger and Food in the Wood River Valley

SUN VALLEY • The Wood River Valley doesn’t have anything like MM Heath Farms growing beans in Buhl or food-processing factories such as Chobani in Twin Falls.

But perhaps the valley could create an opportunity to process food and to expand the growing season through hoop gardens and other means.

These were some of the ideas cited at the start of a three-year conversation about food by dozens of representatives from the Blaine County School District, St. Luke’s Wood River Medical Center, Albertson’s, the Wood River Farmers Market and The Local Food Alliance.

The discussion was instigated by The Hunger Coalition, which will have two AmeriCorps VISTA members assigned to the project for the next three years. The Public Policy Research Center at Boise State University also is involved.

“Obviously, we’re interested in people who don’t get enough to eat. But we also want to figure out how those who are better off can have better access to healthy, organic, locally produced food,” said Jeanne Liston, executive director of The Hunger Coalition.

“What we’re doing encompasses everyone, poor and wealthy,” Liston said. “And the solutions could end up improving our economic well-being by providing more jobs and resources to break the cycle of poverty.”

A food security assessment team is being formed to determine how many people have trouble getting fed in a county where Arnold Schwarzenegger and Tom Hanks own multi-million dollar homes.

The number of people accessing the coalition’s mobile food banks has risen in the past year, even as the economy has improved.

Sage School students were baking 400 pies this week to pass out with Thanksgiving holiday baskets for the needy.

Harry Weekes, who heads the Hailey school, said his students could end food insecurity in the valley with a little help from the community.

The students raised $3,500 for the cause by organizing a farm-to-table dinner. They gleaned 1,000 pounds of fruit and collected 2,000 pounds of canned food by canvassing homes. They could do even more if they had access to a working farm with a greenhouse, Weekes said.

“We could put 10 students there two hours a day four days a week,” he said. “It would have a major impact.”

In addition to food insecurity, the study will address how residents could build a hub to collect, store, process and distribute locally produced foods between farmers, institutions and consumers. It also will explore whether a commercial community kitchen could help people produce jams and other food items for sale.

School gardens or greenhouses could educate students about where their food comes from and healthy nutrition. And the study group wants to figure out how to provide for the mentally ill and people with other barriers that keep them from getting food.

“Some people come forward to get help for their animals but not themselves,” said Sarah Seppa, a registered dietician with St. Luke’s. “How do we provide access so they don’t feel stigmatized?