TWIN FALLS — The Les Schwab, "Week of Giving," sets out to help families throughout the Magic Valley in need of food. It also helps provide local area food pantries who have been working tirelessly throughout the pandemic with their stock to help provide for the demand for food.
This will be Les Schwab's second year of organizing the "Week of Giving", yet this year has already been more impactful for the communities due to the partnership with multiple organizations, including United Way.
Sonya Haines, the Resource Development Director for United Way for South Central Idaho, said, "In order for this to be at the magnitude that they wanted it to be in the local communities and making sure this food stays local and that they have the resources that are needed they knew they had to partner. So reaching with United Way has been super duper important."
The other organizations involved in this year's project also include DOT Food Warehouse, Cliff Bar, and Aramark.
Despite having to bear the brunt of cold weather and long days of work delivering food all over the Magic Valley, those involved in the project feel the work is easy since it helps so many people.
Trent Walls, the Manager of Les Schwab in Burley, said, "Today has definitely been our busiest day, it's going to be a long day, but it's rewarding to yourselves. It just makes you give back, and it just makes you appreciate everything we do living in this great community that we are in."
Deliveries have been made to five hub pantries, which are USDA and Idaho Foodbank approved, including Mountain View Pantry in Burley, Blaine County Hunger Coalition, Martha Mary's Food Pantry in Jerome, Mustard Seed in Twin Falls, and the West End Pantry in Buhl.
The coordinated efforts of these organizations have been able to bring 12,000 pounds of food to help serve 5,000 families. These donations come at a critical time with the holidays right around the corner and due to the economic hardship of COVID.
"Obviously, the needs have increased tremendously, especially with the challenges in our rural communities. Definitely, wintertime is a hardship on the rural communities because the access to services and resources are not abundant during this time of year," said Haines.
With such an increase in the demand for food, these donations do not only help families, but the pantries since the organizations can help purchase what are called "gap items."
Marvin Barnes, a Leadership Team Member for Mustard Seed, said, "They bring in things we normally can't find; we don't get in the donation baskets. So when I, Marvin, goes out and makes a donation, I will pick up a few items and hand it out. Les Schwab came to us, Susie at United Way, and said, what can we help you guys with? We sent a little shopping list, if you will, of some of the foods that meet, that not only meet the nutritious end but something that is nice to have."
Some of the items included canned meat, beans, ramen noodles, soup, nacho chips, and peanut butter.
Today marked the last day of food donations, and on Thursday and Friday, Cliff Bar will be providing 5,000 hygiene kits.
The organizations involved in this project hope for it to grow in future years to continue providing support for Magic Valley Communities. They are also always looking for volunteers to help.