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.

March also brings us smack dab in the middle of the “Hunger Season”, when need is at its highest and food donations plummet dramatically. Warehouse shelves become bare and thousands of locals have a tough time putting healthy food on the table. “We are bracing for a very busy slack season,” said Naomi Spence, Associate Director of The Hunger Coalition. “Nearly a quarter of our clients are seasonal workers and slack hits this population hard,” said Spence. “Around the dinner table, families are talking about which bills to pay when and how they are going to pay their rent this month—food is often the first thing that gets cut from household budgets.”

In 2015, The Hunger Coalition served 3,569 people—17% of the county’s population. A total of 4,533 breakfasts and lunches were distributed through the Summer Food Program, and a record 3,645 bottles of infant formula were given out to babies in need through our Infant Formula Program.

During the “Hunger Season” please consider a donation of food, time or money to The Hunger Coalition. “While we are seeing record numbers of people accessing our programs, we are fortunate to live in a small enough community where it’s possible to meet the need and ensure no one goes hungry,” said Jeanne Liston, Executive Director of The Hunger Coalition. “It is because of our generous donors and supporters who care about our community that we are able to help our struggling neighbors.”

What you can do?
 Atkinsons’ Markets and Albertsons both have yellow donation bins where community members can contribute non-perishable items and Atkinsons’ Markets also sells “Stop Hunger Cards” at checkout stands, where donations come directly to The Hunger Coalition.

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.