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Produced & Maintained by Idaho Mountain Express, Box 1013, Ketchum, ID 83340-1013 
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Copyright © 2003 Express Publishing Inc.
All Rights reserved. Reproduction in whole or in part in any form or medium without express written permission of Express Publishing Inc. is prohibited. 

For the week of December 3 - 9, 2003


Share the wealth

’Tis the season of giving and possibly no people in Idaho are as able to give as the people of Blaine County.

The numbers don’t lie.

The U.S. Census Bureau reported that the county’s median household income in 1999 was $50,496—34 percent more than the state median of $37,572. It was 20 percent more than the national median of $41,994.

If those numbers aren’t enough to make residents reach for their checkbooks, consider the valley’s homes.

Blaine County homes are worth more than twice as much as others in Idaho. The median value of owner-occupied units here is estimated at $288,800, while the median value in the rest of Idaho is $106,300.

It’s no secret: Compared to other areas in Idaho and the United States, residents of Blaine County are wealthy.

Sometimes this is hard to see, located as we are in an expensive international playground. A $288,000 valley house looks awfully ordinary compared to the multi-million-dollar, copper-and-granite-encrusted art pieces some folks call home.

But that doesn’t change the facts.

Recently, the newly formed nonprofit Hunger Coalition pointed out that in 1999, nearly 8 percent of valley residents lived below the nationally established poverty level. Given that poverty levels have increased by about 1 percent in the interim, the local poverty rate today is 9 percent or more.

This means that about 1,800 of our neighbors—many of them children—are having a tough go of it. The coalition said that while no one is starving, many working poor and their families are going without food for short periods of time. And, the problem is growing.

The problem is acutely embarrassing in this enclave of wealth, which celebrates good food, good times and the great outdoors every day of the year.

It’s clear that in this age of budget cuts, government can’t address poverty alone.

What can be done?

For individuals, doing something is as easy as writing a check to support an organization working to eradicate hunger—not only the hunger of the belly, but hunger of the mind as well. There are many worthy organizations that do fine work. Giving is simple: Choose one and mail a check.

This would be a good start, but giving should go deeper.

Valley businesses need to ask themselves if employees are being paid fairly relative to the local cost of living. Families who employ household service companies or individuals need to ask themselves the same question.

Empty stomachs and starving minds are invisible. It’s up to everyone to reach out, find them, and fill them.



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The Idaho Mountain Express is distributed free to residents and guests throughout the Sun Valley, Idaho resort area community. Subscribers to the Idaho Mountain Express will read these stories and others in this week's issue.