TWIN FALLS, Idaho — Food insecurity in Idaho is nothing new, but thanks to the COVID-19 pandemic, Mustard Seed Ministries says they're seeing an unprecedented need--and it's not just children and families struggling.
"Food is always a struggle for people. I think statistically if you think about children specifically, one out of every 6 children on any given day go to bed without having a hot meal," said Liz Mandelkow, Business Manager with Mustard Seed Ministries. "Probably the toughest population is our senior population."
Fish and Game has been working for several years to fight elk depredation in the Little Camas area through reducing herd size. As part of their battle against elk depredation, Fish and Game started a research project with the University of Idaho, hoping to find effective ways to reduce crop damage.
As part of the research project, Fish and Game sharpshooters dispatched at night when elk were moving into farmland to feed. The sharpshooters killed 206 elk, mostly in the Magic Valley Region.
"We have employed department sharpshooters to try to implement that component by removing a small number of elk at a time to try to teach those elk not to come into the crops," said State Wildlife Manager Jon Rachel.
What about the meat from those 206 elk?
Fish and Game says those elk were immediately field-dressed, placed in a refrigerated truck. From there, Idaho Hunters Feeding the Hungry was able to process and distribute that elk meat to nine food banks around the Magic Valley Region--including Mustard Seed
"20,000 pounds of meat, and then a quarter pound of protein for a meal produces 80,000 meals," explained Jeff Shroeder, Executive Director of the organization. "We had a good supply that we were able to give since March. That is so needed, by so many people. Especially at this time with this coronavirus issue. It reaches more people and people that are really in need for this good quality food too."
Mandelkow says the donation has been a huge help with meeting the need Mustard Seed is facing because of the pandemic.
"By having that donated and being a free resource to us, those dollars then can be spent in other areas that we don't have things donated like beef or hamburger," Mandelkow said.
Idaho Hunters Feeding the Hungry partners with local hunters too.
"That way they can share, they can take care of their own families, but that way they can share that bounty with others and what a wonderful gift that is," said Mandelkow.
If you, or someone you know is in need, click here.
If you'd like to learn more about Idaho Hunters Feeding the Hungry, click here.