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Idaho Foodbank battles hunger, food insecurity across the state

The non-profit has helped more than 97,400 Idahoans so far during the pandemic through their facilities in Meridian, Pocatello, and Lewiston.

BOISE, Idaho — As the pandemic drags on, food insecurity is rising for many families. It is estimated that one in six adults and one in four children in Idaho will grapple with hunger or not knowing where their next meal is coming from.

The Idaho Foodbank is working to meet the region's growing need. 

More than 97,400 Idahoans have been served so far during the pandemic through the non-profit's facilities in Meridian, Pocatello, and Lewiston.

"Right now, we look at our increase in food distribution and it's a 49% increase since the pandemic started so we've clearly seen an increase in the state of those who are needing food assistance," said Karen Vauk, president and CEO of the Idaho Foodbank.

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But Idaho Foodbank does more than just hand out food. The charity focuses on contributing to individual and community health by providing good nutritious foods to communities - essential food groups like fruits, veggies, whole grains, proteins, and dairy. 

Through the help of the Foodbank's donors, they've increased the distribution of healthy food options by 85% through the pandemic.

"Our donors understand that, when we talk to them about needing nutritious food, they completely understand how important it is to help those who are struggling with the right types of food, and they've been responding very generously," Vauk said.

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In a typical year, the Idaho Foodbank typically relies on their donors to provide food to communities, spending only $200,000 out of pocket on food…

But given the 49% increase in demand for food this year, the foodbank has spent over 2 million on food out of pocket, Vauk said.

"We've had to purchase more food than ever before in our history," she said. "The donated food supply just wasn't enough to be able to keep up with the demand."

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Your donations to 7cares, Idaho Shares will directly help charities like the Idaho Foodbank, and will go a long way in making a difference in the Gem State.

"For every dollar donated, we are able to provide enough food for five meals," Vauk said. "We really want to spread that as far as we can and help those people who are struggling get through these difficult times with the reassurance that they are not alone – that we care about them, their friends and neighbors care about them, and they can ease this burden just a little bit during these tough times."

RELATED: List of Idaho charities to get donations from the 7Cares Idaho Shares virtual fundraiser

7Cares Idaho Shares has gone virtual this year, and the annual day of giving has turned into a two-week event. The need for services provided by Idaho charities has also grown this year because of the pandemic.

To donate or to learn more about how you can help, click here.