TWIN FALLS • Last year, 5 percent of all U.S. households — 6.2 million families — needed emergency food from a charitable pantry or soup kitchen one or more times.
Two area church food banks — Neighbors in Need of Twin Falls and Burley’s Mountain View Christian Center Food Pantry — are working to make sure local families have a hot meal on their table.
Neighbors in Need is run by the Church of the Ascension. It started in the old church’s basement and is still going after 10 years. Neighbors in Need not only helps people with food boxes, but also provides limited financial help for housing and medical bills. Both services are distributed through the South Central Community Action Partnership in Twin Falls.
This year, the pantry has added the Valley House homeless shelter as another site to send food boxes, said pantry Chairwoman Cindy Jardine, whose board has 25 members.
“We try to have a nutritional supply that is easy to cook,” Jardine said.
Since October 2012, the pantry’s food boxes have helped 78 families, provided 27 families with $3,480.66 for rent and shelter, and helped 40 families with $5,017.47 toward utility bills.
Because hunger is a constant issue, Jardine said, the group constantly holds food drives, which allow more money to be spent on rent and utility bills. Requests for water bill assistance have increased, she said.
“Hopefully we can help people get through a rough time. How can we get them through the next 30 days?” Jardine asked.
Fundraisers are key to bringing in money for Neighbors in Need. A benefit raffle will be held during the arts and crafts fair from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. today at Our Savior Lutheran Church, 464 Carriage Lane N., in Twin Falls. It will move Nov. 3 to Ascension Episcopal Church, 371 Eastland Drive N. in Twin Falls, where tickets may be purchased through Nov.10.
Vintage furniture, specialty baskets, pottery, knitted and woven items, Christmas dishes, jewelry, quilts and more have been donated for the raffle. The drawing will take place after the 10 a.m. service Nov. 10. Winners do not need to be present to win.
Advent Calendars will be sold at Our Savior Lutheran Church today and after worship at Ascension throughout November as long as supplies last.
The Mountain View Christian Center pantry has distributed about 300,000 pounds of food in the Burley community and surrounding areas just this year. Every month, 400 to 500 families receive food boxes. A box provides three meals a day for 10 days, said Chris Bean, pantry director.
About 1,000 people are served hot food in the church’s kitchen.
“We try not to let anybody leave hungry,” Bean said.
She said Mountain View works with agencies such as the Idaho Food Bank and Feed the Children. Every month, the Idaho Food Bank’s mobile pantry sets up at the church.
“There’s just so many people that are having a hard time with our economy, and now people are being forced to buy insurance. It’s going to hit hard at home. People are really struggling right now. If we can help them with a food box every month or 90 days, it’s pretty helpful,” Bean said.
The Mountain View pantry is open from 9 a.m. to noon Tuesdays and Fridays, and photo identification is required to receive a food box.
Proceeds from a fundraising raffle for the Burley charity, not yet scheduled, will go toward a matching grant to construct a building for the growing pantry. She estimated the building will cost $60,000 to $75,000.
“Right now we are using a small room in the church,” Bean said. “There’s been times when we had to turn food away because we didn’t have a place to store it.”