Hunger is far from the thoughts or sight of most Wood River Valley residents. However, the Hunger Coalition is concerned about people going hungry in the coming winter months. In an effort to boost awareness, increase donations and create a plentiful food bank, the Hunger Coalition is promoting Hunger Awareness Month, a statewide observance.
According to the Hunger Coalition 1,002 people received food in September, doubled the number during the same month last year. The Hunger Coalition's Backpack Club, which provides food on weekends to students, gave out 2,716 backpacks last school year. In addition, the Hunger Coalition gave out 6,000 free meals to hungry children at its Summer Food Program in conjunction with the school district.
"Shelves are empty," said Food Program Manager Naomi Spence. "Food donation is slow, but we have been purchasing food all summer."
Spence said slack can be scary because the number of people in need of food increases dramatically then. The Hunger Coalition has several initiatives planned for October.
A "Fast for Hunger" event on Thursday, Oct. 15, will ask participants to skip a meal or fast all day and donate the money saved to the Hunger Coalition. The Hunger Coalition can leverage financial donations by 10 times their value.
The Hunger Coalition and The Community School high school will work together on Friday, Oct. 16, to do a food stamp study, day of service and much more, including a banquet with family and friends. The Community School has chosen to dedicate an entire service day to the subject of hunger with over 100 upper school students led by History Department Chair Chris McAvoy.
Throughout the month, the Kids Helping Kids coin drive will take place. Students will decorate coin jars and place them at businesses throughout the valley. Money collected will be donated to the Hunger Coalition. In addition, a door-to-door canned food drive will take place in selected neighborhoods where kids will encourage neighbors to donate food that has been in their pantry for six months or longer.
"Dine Out Blaine County!" will take place Friday, Oct. 16. It will encourage participants to dine out at participating valley restaurants to fight childhood hunger. A portion of the night's proceeds will go to the Hunger Coalition, and the evening will also stimulate the local economy.
"We started with five restaurants and this year, for our second year, we have 22 restaurants participating," Spence said. "We tried to get a variety of restaurants with different price points. We also made sure there was delivery and take-out, so there is no excuse not to do it."
The Hunger Coalition will also conduct a corporate food drive at the end of the month. Donations can be made at every grocery store in the valley and large drop-offs can be arranged with the Hunger Coalition.
Gearing up for the holidays, the Hunger Coalition needs volunteers and will have a volunteer training session on Wednesday, Oct. 14, at the warehouse in Hailey from 5-6:30 p.m. Anyone interested in volunteering should contact Spence at 788-0121.
"A huge percentage of our volunteers are recipients," Spence said. "We have an excellent cycle of receiving and giving. The energy is amazing."
Sabina Dana Plasse: firstname.lastname@example.org
Free community meals
· Presbyterian Church of the Big Wood will serve Wednesday dinners beginning Nov. 4 through May. Dinner served 6-7 p.m.
· St. Charles Borromeo Catholic Church serves dinners Mondays and Thursdays at 5:30 p.m.
· Rosebud Deli serves Tuesday dinners from 4-7 p.m.
Dine Out Blaine County!
Dine at these restaurants on Friday, Oct. 16, and a portion of the proceeds will go to the Hunger Coalition. Participating restaurants include:
· Ketchum- Cellar Pub, Cristina's, Despo's, Globus, Lefty's, Rico's, Roosevelt Tavern, Rustic Moose, Sawtooth Club, Sushi on Second and WiseGuy Pizza Pie.
· Hailey- Big Belly Deli, CK's, DaVinci's, Fresshies, Lago Azul, Miramar, Sun Valley Brewery and WiseGuy Pizza Pie.
· Bellevue- Brickhouse, Mahoney's and Taqueria al Pastor.