BOISE -- With Thanksgiving just a few days away, many Idahoans are planning their holiday meal. But there are tens of thousands of Idahoans whose biggest concern is not that big feast, but simply where they will get their next meal.
This story begins our look at each of the four organizations who have partnered with us for 7 Cares Day on December 10.
Walking from one end of Garden City to the other, Joanna Morrow and Rudy DeBonis are pulling a suitcase. What’s inside is a rare and valuable possession.
"Whatever you have, you make do with, and you've got to stretch it," said Morrow.
They are walking home with a bag filled with fresh food, thinking about the first decent meal they've had in weeks.
"You look down so it doesn't seem so far," said Morrow as she walked along the sidewalk.
For the past week, the two have lived off of tortillas, butter and sour cream.
"Food just doesn't go very far anymore,” said Morrow. “When your refrigerator starts getting down to empty, it gets kind of scary. Up until today, we were on empty. Let's put it that way - it was on empty."
“You drink a lot of water," said DeBonis. "And the water fills you up."
That is something that people like Beth Carpenter have set out to change. For the last 11 years, she's volunteered at St. Mary's Foodbank.
"I grew up on a farm," Carpenter said. "I had four brothers and two sisters and I learned how to work. I'm not happy unless I'm working, so I might as well be doing something useful.”
With her 85th birthday about a month away, she isn't looking to take a break anytime soon. Her job is to fill food baskets for families in need.
"The people that come here are hungry," said Carpenter.
On this day, she just received a huge shipment from the Idaho Foodbank. She's working fast because her lobby is about to be full of people in need.
"We've got more going on here today than you can shake a stick at," said Carpenter.
St. Mary's is just one of many foodbanks that distribute food for the Idaho Foodbank.
"There are so many hungry people and we're getting more and more all the time," said Carpenter.
In Boise, Vic LaPorte runs the food pantry at Grace Chapel.
"There are folks out there that are hungry and hurting,” said LaPorte. “They just need help and assistance, and a handout and a hand up.”
He too gets the food for his pantry from the Idaho Foodbank.
"We're pretty much dependent upon what the Idaho Foodbank has, and they're pretty much dependent upon the community," said LaPorte.
Every month, the Idaho Foodbank sets a goal to serve 1,000,000 pounds of food through its food pantry network.
"We're continually grateful and humble to see the generosity and the sincere concern that people have,” said Vauk. “They want to help their friends and neighbors.”
But the last four years have been a huge strain on their ability to provide.
"We've seen a radical shift in terms of the number of people who are really struggling today in comparison to that period of time," said Vauk.
Currently, one in six Idahoans live lives that are considered food insecure.
"We're concerned that it is going to get worse," said Vauk.
But Vauk and the other members of the non-profit are committed to moving forward. They're involving anyone who wants to help, and relying on food drives like 7 Cares Day to get the food to those in need.
"The community support that comes through the very generous donors and the organizations that sponsor those events, it's really what makes this happen," said Vauk.
And the volunteers at the many pantries across the state are generous with their time so that people like Morrow and DeBonis can fill their bags and eventually their cupboards with food.
On this day, tortillas are not on the menu and neither is hunger. For dinner, they're eating chili dogs thanks to donations, volunteers and the Idaho Foodbank.
"We're not alone and neither are other people," Morrow said. "There's a lot of help."
The Foodbank is just one of the four organizations on the receiving end of 7 Cares Day. On December 10, from 8 a.m. to 12 p.m. we will be accepting food and cash donations. We will be in Boise at the KTVB studio, in Nampa at the Idaho Center and in Twin Falls at the Fred Meyer.
Of course, that is just one day that's part of the Season of Hope.
You can also text 7 Cares to 50555 to donate $10 to the 7 Cares fund. That will be split equally among the Idaho Foodbank, the Boise Rescue Mission, The Salvation Army and the Jubilee House.
You can find more information on all of the events that are part of our Season of Hope by clicking here.