Unemployment & food assistance programs see record high numbers

Posted at 7:37 AM, May 29, 2020
and last updated 2020-06-01 08:50:34-04

BOISE, Idaho — In April, about a month after the COVID-19 outbreak began in Idaho, the state's unemployment record hit an all-time high at 11.5%. That's nine percent higher than March's record low unemployment rate of 2.5%

That same month, food pantries like Vineyard Boise in Garden City say they also saw a 200% spike. Typically serving about 1,500 people on an average month, the church served 3,700 people in the Treasure Valley in April alone. Their second-highest number happened in 2013 when the church served 2,500 people.

Idaho News 6 asked if the pantry was in dire need of any particular items.

"Canned vegetables are good to always have on hand," says Samuel Burns, the church's benevolence overseer.

Burns says their supply is plentiful--for now. He says meat is the only item where they're seeing a deficit in availability.

Over at Metro Meals on Wheels, CEO Grant Jones says non-perishable items and produce have been the most difficult items to collect for the meal delivery program. Vineyard Boise and Metro Meals on Wheels share a vendor, but the church receives food as a donation, whereas Metro Meals on Wheels purchases food from local distributors. Availability or lack thereof a particular item doesn't reflect a shortage to the public, but it does indicate that these items may be in high demand or impacted by manufacturing/packing plants closing their doors following COVID-19 outbreaks.

Both Vineyard Boise and Metro Meals on Wheels are accepting monetary donations, and Vineyard Boise will also accept food donations. To donate to Vineyard Boise, click here. To donate to Metro Meals on Wheels, click here.