Idaho Hunger Task Force: Making a place at the table for all Idahoans


About Idaho Hunger Relief Task Force

The Idaho Hunger Relief Task Force envisions that in a state as abundant as Idaho hunger will not exist and works to put public and private resources into action statewide in order to eliminate hunger and provide food security for all Idahoans.


ect in the Coeur d�Alene area will help families with children make healthier food choices, with nutrition training, recipes, and groceries to prepare the recipes. Photo credit: Microsoft Images.


December 31, 2014

COEUR D'ALENE, Idaho - New Year's resolutions often focus on food - usually making "healthier food choices." Those choices can be tough when families have limited food budgets, so a new project in the Coeur d'Alene area will help families with children discover ways to focus on nutrition and taste with kid-tested recipes.

Food insecurity and rates of overweight or obese children are connected, said Kathy Gardner, director of the Idaho Hunger Relief Task Force, so the project will focus on both issues.

"It presents nutrition education in a fun and age-appropriate way," she said, "and it addresses food insecurity by getting food into the homes of the children."

The program will be offered in select schools and in after-school settings, and will use the "Choose My Plate" resources from the U.S. Department of Agriculture. Groceries sent home for recipes will come from Safeway stores.

Gardner said one in five children in Idaho is considered food insecure, and about 28 percent are overweight or obese. The basic goal for improving health, for kids and adults, is "food literacy."

"They begin to make better choices when they really are literate about how far their food's traveling, where it comes from, what the nutrients are, what the balance needs to be on that plate," she said.

An added benefit to the program is that students in the Family, Consumer and Career Leaders of America organization also will be involved, and Gardner said she hopes the partnership will help build emerging leaders for hunger-relief projects.

The Food Research and Action Center and Safeway Foundation issued a grant for the project.

Deborah Courson Smith/Deb Courson Smith, Public News Service - ID
- See more at: http://www.publicnewsservice.org/2014-12-31/hunger-food-nutrition/food-resolutions-to-combat-hunger-in-idaho/a43776-1#sthash.Y1SZiH38.dpuf

Food Resolutions to Combat Hunger in Idaho

PHOTO: A new project in the Coeur d�Alene area will help families with children make healthier food choices, with nutrition training, recipes, and groceries to prepare the recipes. Photo credit: Microsoft Images.

PHOTO: A new project in the Coeur d�Alene area will help families with children make healthier food choices, with nutrition training, recipes, and groceries to prepare the recipes. Photo credit: Microsoft Images.


December 31, 2014

COEUR D'ALENE, Idaho - New Year's resolutions often focus on food - usually making "healthier food choices." Those choices can be tough when families have limited food budgets, so a new project in the Coeur d'Alene area will help families with children discover ways to focus on nutrition and taste with kid-tested recipes.

Food insecurity and rates of overweight or obese children are connected, said Kathy Gardner, director of the Idaho Hunger Relief Task Force, so the project will focus on both issues.

"It presents nutrition education in a fun and age-appropriate way," she said, "and it addresses food insecurity by getting food into the homes of the children."

The program will be offered in select schools and in after-school settings, and will use the "Choose My Plate" resources from the U.S. Department of Agriculture. Groceries sent home for recipes will come from Safeway stores.

Gardner said one in five children in Idaho is considered food insecure, and about 28 percent are overweight or obese. The basic goal for improving health, for kids and adults, is "food literacy."

"They begin to make better choices when they really are literate about how far their food's traveling, where it comes from, what the nutrients are, what the balance needs to be on that plate," she said.

An added benefit to the program is that students in the Family, Consumer and Career Leaders of America organization also will be involved, and Gardner said she hopes the partnership will help build emerging leaders for hunger-relief projects.

The Food Research and Action Center and Safeway Foundation issued a grant for the project.

Deborah Courson Smith/Deb Courson Smith, Public News Service - ID
- See more at: http://www.publicnewsservice.org/2014-12-31/hunger-food-nutrition/food-resolutions-to-combat-hunger-in-idaho/a43776-1#sthash.Y1SZiH38.dpuf

 

December 31, 2014

COEUR D'ALENE, Idaho - New Year's resolutions often focus on food - usually making "healthier food choices." Those choices can be tough when families have limited food budgets, so a new project in the Coeur d'Alene area will help families with children discover ways to focus on nutrition and taste with kid-tested recipes.

Food insecurity and rates of overweight or obese children are connected, said Kathy Gardner, director of the Idaho Hunger Relief Task Force, so the project will focus on both issues.

"It presents nutrition education in a fun and age-appropriate way," she said, "and it addresses food insecurity by getting food into the homes of the children."

The program will be offered in select schools and in after-school settings, and will use the "Choose My Plate" resources from the U.S. Department of Agriculture. Groceries sent home for recipes will come from Safeway stores.

Gardner said one in five children in Idaho is considered food insecure, and about 28 percent are overweight or obese. The basic goal for improving health, for kids and adults, is "food literacy."

"They begin to make better choices when they really are literate about how far their food's traveling, where it comes from, what the nutrients are, what the balance needs to be on that plate," she said.

An added benefit to the program is that students in the Family, Consumer and Career Leaders of America organization also will be involved, and Gardner said she hopes the partnership will help build emerging leaders for hunger-relief projects.

The Food Research and Action Center and Safeway Foundation issued a grant for the project.

Deborah Courson Smith/Deb Courson Smith, Public News Service - ID
- See more at: http://www.publicnewsservice.org/2014-12-31/hunger-food-nutrition/food-resolutions-to-combat-hunger-in-idaho/a43776-1#sthash.Y1SZiH38.dpuf

AmeriCorps members combat poverty in Payette County

April Ehrlich | Independent-Enterprise

Crystal Yokom, left, and Samantha Breach are AmeriCorps VISTAs who joined the Idaho Hunger Relief team to help strengthen Payette County’s food system.

Posted: Wednesday, January 7, 2015 12:00 pm | Updated: 11:29 am, Thu Jan 8, 2015.

Back in August 2013, Jay Leno asked President Barack Obama if the nation could have an “American Peace Corps.” Little did he realize that the country already does, in fact, have a federal program that puts 75,000 American volunteers to work in fixing the nation’s bridges, fighting national emergencies and combating poverty by implementing new nonprofit and governmental programs to create systemic change.

Many Americans do not know that this program is called AmeriCorps, and that these volunteers commit part- to full-time work for poverty-level living stipends. Since the program’s founding in 1994, more than 900,000 AmeriCorps members have contributed more than 1.2 billion hours in service across America in tackling pressing problems such as hunger, unemployment and homelessness.

There are several types of AmeriCorps programs that differ in the amount of time a volunteer serves, the amount he or she will get paid and the duration of their stay. Payette County currently has three AmeriCorps volunteers: Matthew Cornett, Samantha Breach and Crystal Yokom.

Last year, Cornett joined the Department of Labor’s Payette office as a State National AmeriCorps member to help connect veterans with employment opportunities.

“I am trying to get my name out to the public here so I could help [veterans] write resumes, work with job search and get registered with the Department of Labor,” Cornett said.

A veteran himself, Cornett enlisted in the Army when he was 17 and served with the National Guard for 14 years. He served in Bosnia in support of Operation Joint Forge and in Iraq in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom III from 2004 to 2005.

“As a kid, I was always playing Army, so I knew what I wanted to do when I grew up,” Cornett said. “Now I don’t know what I want to do when I grow up.”

That’s about where AmeriCorps came into his life. Cornett learned about AmeriCorps through the Department of Labor, where he applied for a job and was offered the position in Payette. Many AmeriCorps members are much like Cornett — young adults who have just completed school or service and are looking to gain some professional life experience. Some are looking to get into nonprofit or governmental agency work, whereas some are merely looking for life direction.

Cornett said he is currently earning his master’s degree in business, and he hopes to become a teacher after his AmeriCorps service is over.

“To me, education is knowledge, and knowledge is power,” he said. “You can’t get enough.”

Payette County also just signed up two new AmeriCorps members of a different variety last month. Breach and Yokom are both AmeriCorps VISTAs with Idaho Hunger Relief.

VISTAs differ from State National members such as Cornett in that they focus on indirect service work. For example, instead of feeding the homeless directly, they might design a program that will gather resources and volunteers who will feed the homeless.

Breach and Yokom are designing programs that tackle Payette County’s food system. According to the U.S. American Community Survey’s three-year census for 2011 to 2013, 18 percent of Payette County households receive food stamps, which is considerably high compared to Idaho’s 13.5 percent as a whole.

One thing they both want community members to know is that everyone is part of the food system, not just low-income residents who receive food stamps.

“Whether we’re low income, middle income or high income, we all need food security,” said Breach. “We all need to access food. We want to make a sustainable food system in Payette County.”

Breach’s project calls for her to design and implement a countywide youth council. This youth council will help her and Idaho Hunger Relief brainstorm ways to improve the local food system.

Meanwhile, Yokom is set to design a directory campaign to connect food producers with food consumers.

Yokom and Breach are not out to eliminate hunger or the need for food pantries. Rather, they are here to strengthen Payette County’s existing food system

“We are not eliminating anything,” Yokom said. “We’re here to promote, bring together, collaborate and brainstorm with the community and find what their needs are.”

Many VISTA projects have a maximum three-year duration, after which they are assumed by a nonprofit or government agency. VISTAs serve one-year terms, so one project could have as many as three VISTAs working on it altogether.

Since Breach and Yokom are the first VISTAs to design these two programs, their projects’ goals and overall designs could change, depending on what they find in their initial research in discovering what works for the community.

Both VISTAs were Payette County residents prior to joining the Idaho Hunger Relief team. Breach has lived in Idaho for more than eight years and currently lives in Payette with her husband and two children. She was working on getting a bachelor’s degree in social work prior to joining AmeriCorps. She became an AmeriCorps VISTA because the program is in line with what she wants to do professionally, and it gives her a chance to get involved with her community.

“I read the project description and I was like, ‘Wow, I have to do this,’” Breach said. “There is no way I was going to miss out on this opportunity to become involved with this community.”

Yokom, meanwhile, has lived in Idaho for more than 25 years and has lived in Payette with her husband and four children for 10 years. Originally from Los Angeles, Yokom moved to Payette from Meridian so her children could be more involved with school activities.

“Payette has been a huge blessing for my family,” Yokom said. “My children have been actively involved in just about anything you could imagine in the Payette school system.”

She discovered AmeriCorps through the Payette Hometown Competitiveness Group. Since her youngest child is now 16 and gearing up for graduation in a couple of years, Yokom decided it was time for “Mom to do something.”

“I’ve always had my whole identity around them,” she said. “It was either go to school or get a job, and this was the best of both worlds.”

Yokom said she hopes to go back to school with the education award she will receive from AmeriCorps after completing a year of service. In addition to receiving a living stipend equaling 110 percent of the area’s poverty level, AmeriCorps VISTA have a choice between receiving a cash stipend of about $1,500 or an education award of about $5,550 for completing a year of service.

Despite benefits such as the living stipends, professional experience and the education award, being an AmeriCorps takes dedication and hard work. Poverty-level stipends put members in the same financial position as the community members they serve, so members need to learn how to budget their earnings and apply for social benefits like food stamps. The process takes dedication and passion.

“I am so excited I found this position and it was in line with my own ideals and the career path I want to be on,” Breach said.

 

 

 

 

 

May 7, 2014

BOISE, Idaho - Many schools in Idaho have a new option for lunch. They can offer lunch and breakfast to all students free of charge - if they are high-poverty schools.

Colleen Fillmore, director of the state Education Department's Child Nutrition program, said the so-called Community Eligibility Provision has been tested in other states, and one thing administrators appreciate is eliminating families' applications for free and reduced-price lunches. Also there's no need for cash boxes or lunch accounts.

"Any time you look at something, the pros and cons, this is a 'pro.' It absolutely decreases the paperwork," she said.

The definition of "high poverty" is that 40 percent or more of students have been identified as living in low-income households through other programs. Schools are reimbursed for the costs through the U.S. Department of Agriculture. Schools that implemented the program in previous years saw breakfast and lunch participation increase by up to 25 percent.

Kathy Gardner, director of the Idaho Hunger Relief Task Force, said paperwork isn't just onerous for schools; it also can keep children out of the lunchroom. This new way of managing cafeterias welcomes all students, without stigma for those singled out as "poor."

"This provision allows high-poverty schools to offer nutritious breakfast and lunch to all students at no charge," she said. "Remembering that it's high-poverty schools, we know that these families are struggling to put food on the table at home."

All high-poverty schools in the country can implement the program this year. Gardner estimated that about one-third of all schools in Idaho qualify.

Details on CEP for Idaho are online at sde.idaho.gov.

Deborah Courson Smith/Deb Courson Smith, Public News Service - ID
- See more at: http://www.publicnewsservice.org/2014-05-07/hunger-food-nutrition/new-option-for-many-id-schools-lunch-without-the-paperwork/a39205-1#sthash.Y6tLffgw.dpuf

 

SUPPORTING PARTNERS

The Idaho Hunger Relief Task Force gratefully acknowledges the ongoing support of our work by the Food Research and Action Center, Mazon and Share our Strength.

            No Kid Hungry

 

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info@idahohunger.org

 

 

  

 

 

 

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