NAMPA — Nearly one in six Idaho children are considered food insecure.
Happy Day and the Idaho Foodbank kicked off their donation of 100,000 servings of super food oatmeal to school food pantries in Nampa last Thursday at Snake River Elementary School, giving to a resource critical to the community.
Many students in the Nampa School District don't know when or where their next meal will come from. The school district says 87 percent of Snake River Elementary students qualify for free or reduced lunch and more than 40 percent of people who live near the school are extremely impoverished.
For Crystal Gall and her family, Snake River's Family Community Resource Center is their saving grace.
“There's times we can’t afford to get food at all so we will come here and she'll give us meat, breakfast food for the kids,” Gall said. “We would have gone without. It's been a miracle.”
On top of food, families can also get clothes, and other necessities like laundry detergent, diapers, and hair brushes.
“Kids can get so excited because they have their own brush," said Mari Ramos, with the Nampa School District. "Some of those basic needs that a lot of us take for granted.”
Beyond that, families can find stability at the center.
“Just the stability of being able to be a kid and focus on what you're supposed to focus on, which is school and having fun," Gall said. "And you can focus on all that instead of worrying about your clothes and shoes and food. They want to just be the normal kid. They don't want to be the homeless kid or the hungry kid. They just want to be a kid."
Ramos runs the center at Snake River, where everything is donated by the community, organizations and businesses.
“We want them to feel secure, we want our kids to feel loved and cared for and that we care about more than just them learning their math and English," she said. "We care about them as people."
The Snake River center serves more than 1,000 families a month.
“There's a high homeless population, there's a lack of affordable housing in our area," Ramos said.
Kids can pick up bags of food to bring home to their parents, who may not have access to transportation. Ramos says the north part of Nampa is a food desert and there is not a grocery store within walking distance of some of the families in need.
At the center, Ramos also helps families with resumes, jobs, taxes, cooking classes and signing up for health insurance. She says their aim is to help with anything they so parents are available for their children.
The Idaho Foodbank donates the vast majority of food to this pantry. Partnerships with local companies like Happy Day Brands, donating oatmeal and other goods, help them with their mission of ending hunger, and caring for families like Crystal's.
“The need here is great. We want you to know that we see that,” Happy Day Brands CEO Mark Priddy told the crowd during his donation presentation on Thursday,
“It's really huge for parents... knowing that it’s here,” Gall said. "The community cares. When you feel like a lot of times people don't care about you or your situation, there are people out there who do."
Snake River Elementary's resource center was the first in the district, opening last school year. This year, three more opened in different areas of the district because the need is so great.
“These parents they want their children to be fed, they want their children to be happy, they want their children to be successful," Ramos said. "They just sometimes need a little bit of help. We know there's a struggle and they're trying. They really are trying. It's so hard sometimes to make it."