IDAHO FALLS, Idaho (KIFI/KIDK) - In a recent study from the Community Food Basket in Idaho Falls, more than 12,000 families in and around Bonneville County are food insecure.
"A big part of it is that our economy has grown tremendously here in Idaho especially, and jobs have grown, but the challenge is that the wages have not kept pace with the cost of living," said Community Food Basket executive director, David Manson.
A United Way study called 'Alice' looks at working Idahoans who earn above the federal poverty level but can't afford the basic cost of living. For eastern Idaho, Alice determined that forty percent of individuals can't satisfy their basic needs.
"The independent Idahoan, and the spirit that we have here in the state of taking care of ourselves and our own, who broke down in tears saying 'I never imagined ever in my life that I would have to come to a food basket for help,'" Manson said.
Manson says 2019 was the fourth year in a row they've served more families than they did the previous years. He says early statistics for 2020 predict that the number will increase once again. He says they've especially seen an increase in 'gap' families, an acronym they use to describe 'grandparents acting as parents.'
"And that's anything from the opioid epidemic to incarceration to whatever the cause is, we've got an older generation on a fixed income that is now finding themselves raising their grandbabies," Manson said.
Feeding America describes food insecurity as a household's inability to provide enough food for every person to live an active, healthy life.
For some, the struggle is frequent, while for others, the need can be occasional.
"Food insecurity has a lot of different forms. It could be the family that has one or two crises a year, it could be the family that's consistently facing an issue, it could be somebody that's going through a hard time for half of the year, it has many faces," Manson said.
This Valentine's day, Community Food Basket and Dutch Bros Coffee are partnering to support hunger relief in Bonneville County. $1 from every drink sold will benefit organizations dedicated to fighting hunger.