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Hunger Awareness Month: ID Orgs Go 'Above and Beyond'

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Gov. Brad Little has approved $2.7 million in hunger relief since the pandemic began. (JackF/Adobe Stock)
Gov. Brad Little has approved $2.7 million in hunger relief since the pandemic began. (JackF/Adobe Stock)
 By Eric Tegethoff - Producer, Contact
October 22, 2020

RIGBY, Idaho -- Idaho Gov. Brad Little has issued a proclamation declaring October Hunger Awareness Month.

The Idaho Hunger Relief Task Force and Idaho Foodbank are recognizing three organizations that have gone above and beyond to serve their communities during the pandemic.

Among them is the Giving Cupboard in Rigby, about 15 miles north of Idaho Falls.

Naomi Schilling, president of Giving Cupboard, said COVID-19 has presented a major challenge to communities in the area.

"When the pandemic started, we had to close our building," Schilling explained. "And with the monumental efforts of our board, we turned our program on a dime and we began a mobile pantry so that we could continue feeding hungry families in Jefferson County."

Schilling said the Jefferson County sheriff is reading a proclamation from the governor for Hunger Awareness Month on Friday. Little has approved $2.7 million in hunger relief since the pandemic began.

Jeanne Liston is executive director of the Hunger Coalition, which also is being recognized.

The organization serves Blaine County, which was the epicenter of COVID-19 when it first hit in March.

She said the Hunger Coalition already has distributed 500,000 pounds of food through September; about twice as much as they usually distribute in a year.

"Even before the pandemic hit, 52% of people in Blaine County were considered food insecure or one crisis away," Liston noted. "Well, we're now seeing what happens when that one crisis hits everyone at once. So it's just been a struggle for so many for the last seven-plus months now."

In North Idaho, outside Lewiston, the town of Juliaetta's J-K Good Samaritan Food Bank is being honored.

Larry Haylett, director of the food bank, said when COVID-19 first hit, folks who regularly come to the food bank were concerned there might not be enough for people in need, and so they stopped coming.

"We finally got word out, 'We've got plenty of food,'" Haylett recalled. "And now they started coming again. But I thought it was rather neat that they were concerned for others beyond themselves, making sure others got the food."

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