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Treasure Valley food banks facing an increased need

Meridian Foodbank Executive Director, Dan Clark, said they went from serving about 2,800 people each month to 4,200 in one year.

BOISE, Idaho — Wednesday was Rachel Murphy’s fourth trip to the Meridian Foodbank – a resource helping to provide for her family.

“This helps save money on groceries so that we can still pay our bill,” she said.

Murphy said she makes a good living, but without expensive groceries and gas, something had to give, and she’s not alone. 

Meridian Foodbank Executive Director, Dan Clark, said they went from serving about 2,800 people each month to 4,200 in one year.

15 miles to the west, Care House Food Bank at Nampa First Church of the Nazarene is seeing a similar increase.

“We’re going to three to four grocery stores three times a week to get food to fill our shelves, and then we are purchasing food also, so that we can make sure we have enough on the shelves,” Care House Food Bank spokesperson, Tony Johnson said.

Care House and the church are located at 1524 6th St. South in Nampa.

During the pandemic, Clark said fewer people visited food banks because some received food through government programs like “Farmers to Families.” But now that those programs are over, food banks are back to filling the need.

Johnson said he believes inflation is partly to blame.

“We’re finding out with that with the rising rent costs and the rising gasoline costs, the rent eats first, the gasoline eats second," Johnson said. "So, the family has very littler to buy food to eat."

In addition to helping families, Care House serves a significant number of senior citizens. Johnson said 30% of their customers are over the age of 65.

JJ Maquina started going to the Meridian Foodbank about three months ago. He receives a monthly social security payment. He said that money only goes so far.

“I only get $861 a month, my rent for 50, then plus everything else and stuff I have very little,” Maquina said, “not that I'm starving to death, but I have very little money left over for food.”

The food bank not only benefits Maquina, but also his whole family. He said he helps his grandkids, great grandkids and daughter make sure they have food on the table.

To help meet increased demand, community donations are important. Johnson said giving left over bulk food, canned items or fresh produce from your garden to food banks can help a family in need.

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