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Summit Looks to Take the Edge off Idahoans' Hunger

October 10, 2008

Boise, ID – The first frost of the season is a subtle reminder of the high heating bills to come. Those energy bills, plus rising consumer costs and the foreclosure crisis, are what's on the plate today at the Idaho Hunger Summit.

More than 250 people from around the state are gathering to discuss how the economic crisis is taking a bite out of Idaho's family pantries. Kathy Gardner with the Idaho Hunger Relief Task Force says they're also going to discuss the Gem State's "new hungry."

"The 'new hungry' could be your neighbors, your coworkers or your friends. They might be your own children. Idaho is ranked as the sixth worst state in the nation for child food security."

Gardner says frightening stories are circulating from across the state. In Pocatello, for instance, people are waiting in line for three hours for food distribution.

"In the Magic Valley, there are seniors moving in to their kitchens in order to reduce their heating bills."

Hunger Summit attendees know all too well that Food Stamp usage is the highest in the state's history, and the number of unemployed Idahoans is at its highest rate since 1987. The good news, says Gardner, is that goals set at the same summit two years ago have been met, helping Idahoans to access food stamps and increasing the state grocery tax credit. This year's goal, to create an updated list of "next steps," is to be addressed over the next year.

Deborah Smith/Don Mathisen, Public News Service - ID