For many across Idaho, the impacts of COVID-19 mean they're dealing with unemployment and food insecurity for the first time--but a new set of wheels at the Idaho Foodbank will help those struggling with hunger right here in the Magic Valley.
In response to the growing statewide need, the Idaho Foodbank is teaming up with Chobani to bring a refrigerated truck to the Magic Valley. The multi-purpose truck will allow the Foodbank to supply local food pantries in the area with perishable foods like vegetables, eggs, and dairy products, and also help with the food pantries' limited fridge and freezer space.
"We'll be able to increase the amount of food we'll be able to provide to those who are in need that are residing in the Magic Valley and also that south-central region," said Karen Vauk, President and CEO of the Idaho Foodbank. "We can stage our truck delivery so that it happens immediately before that community distribution. That removes the problem of that partner not having enough coolers."
The truck comes as food insecurity brought on by the pandemic rises. The Idaho Foodbank says the need for food varies across Idaho, but many areas are reporting a 50% increase in the need for food. For hard hit areas like Blaine County, the need is even greater.
"Their numbers of people in need have more than tripled," Vauk said.
For Chobani, the truck is a way to show their support for their employees and the community they live in.
"We wanted to help our communities where we operate in, and that is neighbors, and that is friends, and that is family of our workforce," said Peter McGuinness, President of Chobani. "We're in it for the long haul."
The Foodbank says they plan to continue their model of drive through pantries and maintaining social distance throughout the four phases of the Governor's plan to reopen Idaho, but they want to the community to know they're still here.
"We're here to help," Vauk said. "These are unusual times, we haven't seen numbers like this, and to have it so quickly and suddenly just found themselves without a job. This was a surprise obviously to all of us."
If you'd like to make a donation to the Idaho Foodbank, or are struggling with food insecurity and need some help, click here.