Hunger Coalition feeds hope

In trying times like these it’s nice to know that there is somebody out there who cares.

It’s easy to let worry be your friend when a quarantine is in effect and money for even basic needs can be tough to come by. That’s why we’re lucky The Hunger Coalition (THC) is here.

THC is already usually busy, serving over 4,000 families in 2019 alone.  But the COVID-19 pandemic is shifting things into another gear. One week in and they’ve already set a new record for most families served in a single day.

Thankfully, they were ready, having increased their food purchases in anticipation of the lay-offs and other challenges locals will face.

The fact is, more than 1in 3 Blaine County residents is considered “ALICE,” or Asset Limited Income Constrained but Employed. Basically, ALICE is any person or family that is one crisis away from having trouble affording food.

The combination of exceptionally high food costs—Blaine County has the 8th highest costs in the country—and high housing costs make the line between getting by and struggling a rather fine one. One crisis, like a hospital visit or a broken down car or a month without tips can make it tough for many local families to eat.

And when you’re in those moments of stress it’s nice to know that the team at THC has been working hard to be there for you.

“Our goal is to figure out how we can work together to produce a healthier Blaine County and reduce food insecurity,” said Mary Simms, Development Coordinator for THC.

Founded in 2004, the number of people THC feeds has been going up steadily over the last half-dozen years.  To help meet their growing demand and to be prepared for national emergencies like the Coronavirus, THC is in the process of expanding. They will be moving their facility in Southern Bell Industrial Park in Bellevue across the street to the old Clearwater Landscaping property. In addition to their offices, the facility will include the Bloom Community Food Center. The Food Center will be home to a community kitchen, a year-round greenhouse and discount membership market.

The Food Center will help the team at THC reach more of the community. One of the hardest parts about being food insecure is reaching out for help. The stigma is a big hurdle. By creating a welcoming community space, everyone can access good food at the same place. No matter how life is treating you that day.

THC was going to share their plans by hosting March’s Business After Hours, but the BAH has been postponed. TNC will share their hopes and reach out for feedback after things settle down after the pandemic passes.

Until then, THC would like you to know they’re here for you and they could use your help, too. Donations to keep the food coming in are gratefully accepted at TheHungerCoaliton.org.

By Mike McKenna

This story originally appeared in the Chamber Corner for the Wood River Weekly.

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