At just a year old, the new Idaho Food Bank headquarters in Meridian is already a well-oiled machine.
"At the height of the pandemic we were at 29 million pounds of food a year," says Karen Vauk, president and CEO of the Idaho Food Bank.
It's an effort that requires generous donors and volunteers and a top-notch management team. But the buck stops with Vauk, who's been in charge since 2009.
"It is challenging," said Vauk. " I like a challenge. And it's definitely challenging. But it's incredibly rewarding."
Vauk spent more than a decade making the most of an old warehouse on Boise's east end. But a long capitol campaign and good planning resulted in this, a modern warehouse in Meridian close to grocery food warehouses — a situation that often pays off.
"If there's a load they can't take they just bring it to us and we're grateful," said Vauk.
Tonight is the night- the 2022 Boise A Chefs' Affaire, an evening to gather together to work towards ending hunger in Idaho!— The Idaho Foodbank (@IdahoFoodbank) October 19, 2022
We'd like to thank all of the generous sponsors that are making this event possible!#IFBACA pic.twitter.com/ltBv5N2ywB
The Food Bank is just about hold its 24th annual Chefs' Affaire, its biggest fundraiser of the year.
"This year back in person again at the Boise Centre," says Vauk. "So we can all be together and celebrate this amazing community that continually comes together to help their friends and neighbors in need."
Vauk said the community is so engaged, when the pandemic hit, she didn't even need to find new sources of food. She says people were calling her to donate.
And with a state-of-the-art warehouse...
"From the front of the building to the back is a freezer," said Vauk. "That was a game changer."
That's because the bank prides itself on fresh produce that requires refrigeration. And with community growth, they have an extra 40,000 square feet to expand into.