Volunteer Spotlight: Kathy Prior

kathy Prior volunteering at The Hunger Coalition

Volunteer, Kathy Prior bags and sorts green onions at The Hunger Coalition’s warehouse for a busy food distribution day.

How or why did you first become a Volunteer for The Hunger Coalition?

My two older daughters and I first started packing backpacks for the Backpack Program in 2007, since 2008 I have done hunger outreach in California and Oregon and now I’m back with The Hunger Coalition. Being an adopted child myself at the age of 10, I know how meaningful it is to have the emotional security of knowing where your next meal will come from.

What other interests or hobbies do you have?  Do you volunteer anywhere else? What did you know about The Hunger Coalition before becoming a Volunteer?

I’m most passionate about caring for others, whether it be through foster parenting, homeless outreach, hunger volunteering or being with my 7 children and 13 grandchildren. In my down time I enjoy hiking with my golden retriever and my only child still at home, spending time with my best friend Mal, scrapbooking, refurbishing/repurposing older items, being in nature, gardening and baking. I also deliver food for Meals on Wheels and scoop ice cream at the Senior Center Ice Cream Parlor. I was a foster parent for 26 years and have in the past volunteered my training in crisis intervention for the foster/adopt trainings, as well as done crisis outreach for families that have suffered economical or emotional trauma. I knew little of the specific interworking of The Hunger Coalition before volunteering but I’m delighted every day to learn a little more than I knew the day/month or year before.

What would you tell people The Hunger Coalition is now that you have been a part of the team?

The Hunger Coalition is extremely vital in a community like the Wood River Valley where the incomes vary so drastically from the very low income and working class, to the very well off and  economically privileged. The staff and volunteers are dedicated to providing a heartfelt service that might be easily pushed under the rug (or not as easily accessible due to the rural proximity of the community) if it were not for The Hunger Coalition.

Can you share a particular memory or favorite experience you have had while working here?

I’m not in the forefront and I often prefer to be the anonymous volunteer due to my personality and the fact that I believe that all my skills, talents and abilities have been a gift from my Creator and not of my own doing or being… That being said, I love to hear the laughter of the children as the get their food, the sharing of their parents with the other volunteers up front and the honest encouragement and genuine caring that is given to the families by the resource volunteers.

What sorts of jobs do you do as a Volunteer?  What kind of people do you work with?

I’ve readied the backpacks to go home with the children for the weekends, I’ve sorted and collected food from the grocery stores in Ketchum (Food Rescue Program) and delivered it to the warehouse. Now I help stock the shelves for distribution days and I package produce and food products in a family-friendly manner. The people at The Hunger Coalition are a different breed of humanity for sure; set aside by the light emitted from their spirits and the happiness shared via their extension of hope to the needy! It is my honor to be in  the presence of such beautiful souls and I’m humbled every day by how much of themselves they give freely to others.


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

Outreach Volunteers Needed!

surveyThe Blaine County Community Food Assessment is in need of volunteers to help canvass neighborhoods to distribute an important food questionnaire.

If you like talking to people from all walks of life and like being active and on the move, help the Community Food Assessment reach people that may need help.

Canvassing is from August 3- August 15, and shifts are as little as one day a week for two hours – English and Spanish speakers are needed. Call Rachel at 208-788-0121 or email rshinn@thehungercoalition.org for more information.

Volunteer Spotlight: Lorie Hayes


  • Senior Prom 2015How or why did you first become a Volunteer for The Hunger Coalition?

My church needed a contact for the food drive and I volunteered.  I had been thinking about volunteering for The Hunger Coalition for a long time and this provided a great opportunity to take action.

What other interests or hobbies do you have?  Do you volunteer anywhere else? What did you know about The Hunger Coalition before becoming a Volunteer?

I love to swim and hike and in the summer, I love planting flowers.  I am also a volunteer for the Girl Scouts of the Silver Sage Council.  My daughter is a girl scout and I help with her troop.  I also volunteer at my church.  I knew The Hunger Coalition provided food to people who needed it but what I didn’t know is that you also provide educational opportunities; cooking classes and nutritional education.  I think that is so amazing.

What would you tell people The Hunger Coalition is now that you have been a part of the team?  

What a blessing The Hunger Coalition is to so many families in this valley.  I had someone ask if I felt The Hunger Coalition was really necessary and what about those who take advantage of the free food.  For me, it is about the many families with children that need a meal and are provided one.  I can’t imagine having to tell my children I couldn’t feed them.  You provide such a great comfort to those in need.  I can tell the people who work at The Hunger Coalition care about what they are doing and I think it is so wonderful.
Can you share a particular memory or favorite experience you have had while working here?

I keep running into people I know who are volunteering at The Hunger Coalition.  It is so fun because you never know who you are going to see there!

What sorts of jobs do you do as a Volunteer?
What kind of people do you work with?

I am a Grocery Recovery Volunteer and I deliver Snack Packs to Hemingway Elementary during the school year.  I enjoy the staff at Hemingway because my son went to school there.  It is fun to catch up with them each week.  The guys at Main Street Market are a great bunch and always make me welcome.  I am so proud of the businesses donating food that would otherwise be thrown away.  It is another great thing about the Wood River Valley.

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 eslike@thehungercoalition.org

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 www.thehungercoalition.org.



“Fresh Bucks” allow SNAP recipients to shop at local farmers’ markets

111The Hunger Coalition and the Wood River Farmers’ Markets are teaming up again to increase access to fresh, locally grown food for those in need.

People can purchase fresh food at the Ketchum and Hailey Farmers’ Market with their SNAP dollars. With the help from local sponsors, Fresh Bucks money will be doubled, up to $20.  For individuals living on a tight food budget, this will allow their $20 SNAP credit to become $40 worth of fresh, healthy food. This offer will be available to participants weekly while funds last.

“This program allows community members living in financial crisis to not only have the benefit of accessing local fresh food, they can also participate in the healthy and vibrant farmers’ market atmosphere and support local farmers,” said Naomi Spence, Associate Director.

Here is a testimonial from Gregory, a Wood River Valley resident who used Fresh Bucks last year:
“I’ve always been in love with Farmers’ Markets and now I have even more incentive to be able to go to the market and essentially get $40 of fresh, local produce, for $20! The Fresh Bucks program is beneficial because many people don’t buy healthy food because they think they can’t afford it, but with DOUBLE YOUR BUCKS money, it allows you buy fresh, local food affordably. It’s also a great environment for teaching kids to identify healthier food and my daughter loves meeting the farmers growing the food and helping pick out the produce. Many farmers offer samples–that is so great for kids to taste the produce or fruits they’re selling.”

The program is simple – participants visit the Fresh Bucks booth at the Ketchum or Hailey location. After swiping their SNAP card, they will receive tokens which will be accepted at farmers’ booths displaying the Fresh Bucks sign. In addition, matching Fresh Bucks tokens up to $20 can be used to purchase the following fresh food items: fruits, vegetables, milk, cheese, eggs, meat and honey.  Prepared foods such as pies and jams are excluded from this program.

The markets run from June 9 to October 8 and are in Ketchum on Tuesdays from 2-6pm at the Fourth Street Heritage Corridor and in Hailey on Thursdays from 2-6pm on Main Street next to Sturto’s. Contact The Hunger Coalition at 788-0121 or email: info@thehungercoalition.org for more information on the Fresh Bucks program.

Summer Food Program Starts June 15

IMG_0736Keep your kids happy and healthy this year with a free sack lunches in Hailey!

Thanks to The Hunger Coalition, Blaine County School District and community volunteers, Lunch in the Park offers free sack lunches to kids 18 and under throughout the summer. Beginning Monday, June 15, free sack lunches are available weekdays from 11am – 12 noon through August 21 at the Balmoral play field in Hailey. Parents or guardians can purchase a lunch for $1.

“When school is out for summer, many kids loose the one meal they count on—school lunch,” said Naomi Spence, Associate Director. “Lunch in the Park is a great way for kids to come together, get a free, healthy sack lunch, play in the park and enjoy summer,” added Spence.

Free activities will be held weekly from organizations like the Hailey Public Library, Bellevue Public Library, Environmental Resource Center, 4-H, The Community Library and more!

With more than 450 children living in poverty in Blaine County, and hundreds of local families struggling to make ends meet, Lunch in the Park ensures our children have access to the nutrition they need. With the help of the Blaine County School District, volunteers and staff, free sack lunches are provided for local children experiencing hunger or family crisis.

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 www.thehungercoalition.org.

Hope Garden seeks volunteer gardeners, extends food bank hours

Originally posted on Eye on Sun Valley

Want to get your hands dirty?

The Hope Garden Team is getting ready to plant leafy greens, vegetables summer berries and fragrant herbs.

Volunteers are invited to join the cause, raising fresh produce for hungry families, from 4:30 to 6 p.m. Mondays and Wednesdays at the Hope Garden outside the Blaine County Courthouse at First and Walnut streets in Hailey.

Fresh bites are need more than ever, even though the Great Recession appears to be winding down. The Hunger Coalition recently distributed food to 129 families in a single week–very high numbers, said Julie Molema.

In response,The Hunger Coalition is extending its Monday mobile food bank hours.

Starting Monday, April 27, the Bellevue warehouse will be open from 1 to 6:30 p.m. to accommodate those working several jobs but still unable to make ends meet. The Hunger Coalition  offers food assistance and private consultations for walk-ins on a first-come, first-served basis.

“We’ve receive numerous comments from clients that it is hard to access our food distribution after work,” said Associate Director Naomi Spence. “And the amount of people coming to get food in the last half-hour in Bellevue has increased dramatically in the past several months.”

Call Hallie Reikowsky at 720-1521 or email hreikowsky@thehungercoalition.org for more information about the Hope Garden.

For more information about The Hunger Coalition, go to thehungercoalition.org or call 788-0121


Read the online version here.

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

Extended Hours at The Hunger Coalition

photo by Dev Khalsa

photo by Dev Khalsa

Spring slack can be a slow time of year for many valley businesses—but it’s one of the busiest for The Hunger Coalition. Many families struggle to pay bills and put food on the table at this time of year.

The Hunger Coalition has seen an uptick in numbers recently, with more and more families arriving in the last hour of business during Monday’s busy food distribution in Bellevue. After conducting client surveys, analyzing check-in times and receiving comments from food recipients about how it can be difficult to access our services after work, The Hunger Coalition decided to extend its Monday mobile food bank distribution during the Hunger Season (when need is high and donations plummet). Continue reading