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Food and Fuel Costs Squeezing Idaho Families – and Food Banks

May 13, 2008

Boise, ID – It's a double-whammy for food banks in Idaho. Roger Simon with the Idaho Food Bank reports rising fuel costs are driving more families to seek food relief, while those same costs make it harder for food banks to keep up their supplies. People on fixed incomes and low-income families are hardest hit, Simon says. He predicts demand will go up at the beginning of summer vacation, when kids no longer get school lunches.

"During the school year, studies have shown that children who receive free and subsidized lunches get one-third to one-half of their nourishment from that one meal provided through the schools."

A statewide network of summer feeding programs could fill that gap. Simon believes there's some hope on the horizon: Congressional agreement on the next U.S. Farm Bill, which includes a substantial increase in food-relief funding.

With food banks and other support services being stretched thin by high costs, Simon emphasizes that businesses and communities can make a difference, too, in addition to help from the federal government.

"It's something that we can all do something about. We need to do what we can. We can volunteer our time, volunteer funds, give food to those who serve food. We can make a difference, but we have to come together and work as a community."

Idaho isn't the only state facing a hunger problem. Ashley White with the Children's Defense Fund says it's a nationwide issue and should be a top national priority.

"It's just shameful that in this rich nation, 12.6 million children lived in households struggling against hunger in this past year."

Deborah Smith/Craig Eicher, Public News Service - ID