StateImpact Idaho is in the early stages of creating a series about unemployment and underemployment in the state. More specifically, we want to find Idahoans who are willing to talk with us every month or so about how they’re coping through economic circumstances that are uncertain, at best.
In the course of making calls to prepare for this series, I was invited to spend some time at the St. Vincent de Paul food pantry here in Boise. It was a busy day there this Wednesday, with nearly 60 families picking up carts of free food. At least one woman was a first-time visitor. She came in, looking a little uncertain, and said to the nearest volunteer, “Somebody said this was a good place to come for food…”
The demand for food assistance has risen tremendously in recent years. For example, The Idaho Foodbank, which distributes food to pantries, shelters and community kitchens statewide, says its food distribution has gone up by 93 percent since 2008.
The St. Vincent pantry gives food, once a month, to anyone who comes. A number of those I met work full-time, but are single parents who can’t make it on one income. One young woman said she is trying to support three children on $10 an hour. She has no benefits and was recently diagnosed with multiple sclerosis. She, like others I talked to, said she wants people to be more aware of the realities for people living on the fringe.
We here at StateImpact Idaho are trying to build those lines of communication. If you have suggestions or want to tell your own story, let us know.