BOISE, Idaho — As the COVID-19 pandemic continues, food banks are seeing an increase in requests for help. Locally, that trend includes the Idaho Foodbank.
The Idaho Foodbank is considered an essential service and is exempt from Governor Little's stay-at-home order. Volunteers at the Foodbank's three facilities in Boise, Lewiston and Pocatello are also considered essential workers and exempt from the order.
The three facilities are currently fully operational. Morgan Wilson, Chief Development Officer for the Idaho Foodbank, says the facilities and their partners are seeing a major increase in demand for help.
"We're seeing a 30 to 50% increase, but it's important to remember that we have partners across the area--particularly int he Treasure Valley--that have indicated they're seeing a 100% increase in just one week's time," said Wilson.
The Idaho Foodbank has a helping hand, thanks to the Idaho National Guard. Servicemen and women are helping at all three facilities, filling volunteer shifts and making sure the Foodbank can reach everyone who has a need.
"They're also serving at Mobile Pantries which are in high need at rural areas," said Wilson. "In those situations, they're making sure that we're able to serve people in a drive-up model that really makes sure we're practicing good social distancing while still getting food that people need."
The Foodbank has transitioned to a prepared food box distribution model for all of the Mobile Pantries to ensure they remain a safe and reliable method of food access. The National Guard is helping build those boxes to hand out.
Volunteers are still in high demand for the Foodbank's mission. The organization has adjusted programs to align with social distancing practices to keep volunteers safe.
"The safety of our volunteers and safe is critical, so in addition to our normal washing and hygiene practices, we're also practicing social distancing from the very moment that people arrive at any facility or site, they're being distanced and that's true all the way through their volunteer work projects," explained Wilson.
The Idaho Foodbank is encouraging healthy, low-risk individuals with time to spare to sign up for a volunteer shift. You're also encouraged to call your local food pantry facilities to see if they need support. For other ways to volunteer, click here.
As the Foodbank increases the amount of food it distributes across Idaho, donations of money can be applied quickly and make the most impact in terms of obtaining supplies and covering logistics involved with moving food. To donate, click here.