Boise Co-op Volunteers to Help Feed Idahoans

Everyday The Idaho Foodbank Makes a Tangible Contribution to Our Community


On Tuesday, July 30th, The Boise Co-op volunteered to help  repackage food at the Idaho Foodbank. Upon arrival, Christine Dwello, the Corporate and Community Relations Coordinator, gave us a tour of facility. The Idaho Foodbank started in 1984 as a co-op distributing 400,000 lbs of food. Today The Idaho Foodbank distributes 18 million lbs statewide from their three locations: Boise, Pocatello, and Lewiston and is the largest distributor of free food in the state of Idaho. The Boise warehouse is an enormous facility: 28,000 square feet capable of storing 100,000 lbs of food. Inside the warehouse there is also a huge walk in freezer frozen foods and cold storage for fresh produce.

The Idaho Foodbank’s mission is to feed, educate and advocate for Idaho’s hungry.There are 221,000 Idahoans struggling with hunger: that equates to 1 in 8 people in Idaho. Of that, there are 1 in 6 children (or 72,840) who go without 6 meals per week. 93% of the food is donated by producers, grocers such as the Boise Co-op, agriculture, meat industry, and other food banks. The food bank is able to provide five meals for every $1.00 donated. 


    After our tour, everybody was ready to get to work. A local farmer generously donated thousands of pounds of white beans to the food bank. We were given the task to package the beans into 2 lb bags, label, and then box them up for the senior nutrition program. In the two hours we spent volunteering, our team repacked 2,924 lbs of dried white beans. This will provide 2,436 meals! 

    Volunteers help provide hunger relief with repacking and sorting of food, total statewide 53,599 hours and 21,220 volunteers. That is equivalent to 24 full time employees! Volunteering gives you a deeper connection to your local community. To learn more about volunteering with the Idaho Foodbank, click here.

    The Foodbank feeds 179,000 Idahoans monthly through their six Programs:

    • Backpack: The Idaho Foodbank’s Backpack program ensures that students who are chronically hungry have access to adequate food over the weekend by providing them with a backpack full of nutritious, kid-friendly food every Friday during the school year.
    • Mobile Pantry and School Pantry: School Pantries are a natural extension of the Backpack program .  If children who receive weekend Backpacks are dealing with food insecurity, it makes sense that their siblings are, too. This program helps provide families with food through a pantry set up inside the school, where access is convenient for both students and family alike. The Mobile Pantry Program distributes dry and frozen food to underserved, usually rural, communities. This program helps populations that do not have access to, or have difficulty accessing, food assistance.
    • Picnic in the Park: School’s out for the summer! No more classes, homework, or tests. However, for some students, when school is out, that means no more guaranteed meals.
    • Cooking Matters: Share Our Strength's Cooking Matters is a cooking-based nutrition education program which empowers individuals and families with the skills, knowledge, and confidence to prepare healthy and affordable meals.
    • Health and Nutrition: Helping People Move From Hunger to Health Nutritious Food Growers, processors, manufacturers and grocery stores donate nutrient-dense foods essential for a healthy diet.
    • Senior Nutrition: AARP estimates that 52% of our more than 110,000 senior residents rely on Social Security for half of their family income. Unfortunately, almost one in four Idaho seniors depends on Social Security for 90% or more of their family income. It’s not surprising then that when you factor in out-of-pocket medical expenses, 15% of our older residents are living in poverty.

    Purple Sage Farms: Volunteers Wanted

    This year's winter was harsh for everyone, but for our partner Purple Sage Farms the extreme weather resulted in the destruction of nearly half of their greenhouses. 

    Afterwards, the community came together and raised over $25,000 to assist with the repairs. Now, each Saturday in March from 10 am to 1 pm, volunteers are meeting at the farm to help repair the damage. Thanks to Boise Farmers Market for taking the initiative to organize and host these volunteer opportunities. 

    If you'd like to join in, get the details from Purple Sage below, then head to their Facebook page and register for one of the days (or all three). Also, special thanks to Acme Bakeshop for stepping up to coordinate sack lunches for the volunteers along with a plethora of other local businesses.

    From Purple Sage:

    Thanks to all of you who've been so generous in offering time to help rebuild the greenhouses and get us up and running again. We're dedicating March to disaster cleanup and rebuilding, in hopes that the snow will have cleared and we can get some big projects done before the Boise Farmers Market starts up again in April. 

    So, every Saturday in March, we're organizing re-building projects on the weekends and we'd love to have you by our side to raise the hoops.

    What to bring:

    • Dress weather appropriate and ready to possibly get dirty
    • Boots encouraged
    • Work gloves
    • Box cutters
    • A sack lunch
    • Water bottle