New study reveals hunger growing in Idaho

LEWISTON, ID - A groundbreaking national study indicates that even though the Great Recession may be over, hunger is growing in Idaho.

Nearly 5,700 people in Nez Perce County alone don't have enough food.

For the first time in its history, Feeding America has released a study measuring the shortfall in food-insecure American household's food budgets based on each counties food-needy population. Right now, 15% of Nez Perce County's 39,000 people are what's called food-insecure.

"It's going to take years for some of these families to recover," said Idaho Food Bank Branch Manager Chuck Whitman. "I mean, some of these families have just lost everything."

Although the State of Idaho falls ahead of thirty other States when it comes to food shortcomings, the demand for food is still substantially high.

"We're more limited in rural America," said Whitman. "So, typically we see the rural States tend to lag behind."

Right now the Idaho Food Bank is 40% under capacity. Which means, instead of ten meals, only six are available.

"We reach out and support a lot of other agencies and different communities extending as far as Riggins and as far north as Potlach," said Idaho Food Bank Warehouse Specialist Jim Durland. "Keeping the flow of food into the Idaho Food Bank and the surrounding areas, makes sure that all of those small agencies do receive the food to meet the needs for their communities."

More than 260,000 people in Idaho are food-insecure, meaning, they have a lack of access, at times, to enough food for an active healthy life. And as corporate donations decrease, food banks around the State are forced to purchase bulk products and package them separately themselves.

"It's going to take a lot of support, not just from the community here, but throughout Idaho," said Whitman.

"We always need more food," said Durland. "As you can see these pallets behind me, that's the amount of food that comes in and we unload the freight, and it goes out the door as fast as we receive it."

Feeding America determined it would take almost $124 million and 46 million pounds of food to close the gap between what people have and what they feel they need.

If you are interested in becoming a volunteer for the Idaho Food Bank, contact Chuck Whitman at 746-2288.