GRANGEVILLE Though above the state average, the numbers of those in hunger in Idaho County continue to decrease.
According to information released in May from The Idaho Foodbank, Idaho County’s current food insecurity rate is 14.9 percent (2,420 individuals) of its total population. For the state overall, Idaho’s food insecurity rate is 13.2 percent (221,800 individuals) of the total population.
Idaho County hunger rates have declined steadily since 2012, according to study information released by Feeding America, when 19.5 percent (3,110) were food insecure, dropping 1.9 percent (280) the following year.
For Idaho County’s children – those younger than age 18 – the current rate is 18.8 percent (620 individuals), a drop of 40 from 19.8 percent reported the prior year. Within the study information, the high was in 2011 with 960 children (29.4 percent) listed as food-insecure.
For comparison, food insecurity affects 16.7 percent of Idaho’s children younger than 18 years old, or 72,840 children. This is down from 17.6 percent and 76,070 children in the 2017 study.
In North Central Idaho (Idaho, Lewis, Clearwater, Nez Perce and Latah counties), the rate is above the state’s average, with 15.4 percent food insecurity, and 16,560 individuals. The rate of child food insecurity is 17.2 percent with 3,640 North Central Idaho children food-insecure.
Elsewhere in the region, within the top five of highest rate of food insecurity for children was Adams County at 20.4 percent.
According to The Idaho Foodbank, while the number of Idahoans who are food-insecure has dropped, the number of those individuals who can’t access SNAP benefits because of income qualifications has risen, meaning more individuals who are coming up short and reliant on food banks and pantries to help fill that gap.
Director of the Camas Prairie Food Bank (CPFB) in Grangeville, Carlene Whitesell, echoes that problem with SNAP qualifications has caused local issues, and no less of a demand for the bank’s monthly services.
“We don’t see that happening,” she said, as far as a decrease in those in hunger within this region. “It’s a lot worse here, and it’s getting worse.” With SNAP benefits becoming less, “The reliance on us is a lot bigger.”
CPFB parkers with The Idaho Food Bank – “They’re our biggest food source,” Whitesell said — along with Community Action Partnership (CAP). Once a month, CPFB incurs costs for gas and a U-haul truck rental to transport food from The Idaho Food Bank and CAP to supplement its program. CPFB provide food for 400 to 500 people a month.
“Our use would be a lot higher,” she said, but they encourage those from other communities to utilize food providers services that are active in their respective areas.
With the continued CPFB need, Whitesell encourages the community for its support, dropping off food items at the center (411 East North Street, behind Les Schwab Tire Center) during both its operation hours and after-hours. To drop off refrigerated items after hours, call the number at the center’s back door: 208-507-2365.
The Idaho Foodbank is an independent, donor-supported, nonprofit organization founded in 1984, and is the largest distributor of free food assistance in Idaho. From warehouses in Boise, Lewiston and Pocatello, the Foodbank has distributed more than 180 million pounds of food in its 33-year history. In the last fiscal year, the Foodbank distributed enough food to provide more than 15.5 million meals to Idaho families. The Foodbank distributes food through a network of more than 400 community-based partners. These include schools, pantries, senior centers, feeding sites, and shelters.
“Once again, we’re seeing wonderful news for the thousands of Idahoans who have been able to end their time of hunger,” said Karen Vauk, President and CEO of The Idaho Foodbank. “Even with the good news, it’s important to not forget the nearly 222,000 who still need our help. They’re in every community in our state. That’s why this work continues.”