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Rexburg has largest mobile food pantry in Idaho

By Emily Valla
Published On: Sep 17 2013 07:06:28 PM CDT

Rexburg has largest mobile food pantry in Idaho

REXBURG, Idaho -


Despite heavy rain Tuesday morning, hundreds of Madison County families lined up for food.

The pantry at Madison Junior High is the largest mobile food pantry in Idaho, according to the Idaho Food Bank.

Forty-two thousand pounds of food were dropped off by semi early in the morning, including produce and baked goods. The fresh items come from grocery store donations, local farmers, and a Boise prison farm.

Volunteers say food drives are still one of the most important donations for dried goods.

"We rely on the communities at larges and donors to help us move forward in feeding hungry Idahoans," said Rebecca Ristrem, the East Idaho branch manager of the Idaho Food Bank. She mentioned that 13 percent of Madison County has food insecurity. They saw at least 500 families at the event.

This is the third month of a food pantry at this location, and each month the numbers grow. Ristrem said that as the season changes, the need goes up. One factor is that summer jobs are winding down, like construction or farming.

"Families change, conditions change, people lose jobs, people might get some medical issues," said Janet Goodliffe, grants administrator for Madison School District and project director for Madison Cares.

The food bank doesn't check incomes to determine need.

"We just believe that most people who are going to come and stand in line, it's a humbling experience, and we know that if they are going to do that, they are hungry," said Ristrem.

The families on Tuesday had extra help loading up their baskets. Madison Junior High schoolers served as volunteers. The school district sponsors the drive, knowing some of their own students need the help.

"Kids that are going to achieve academically, one of the first basic needs they have to have met, is they have to have food," said Goodliffe.

Several studies based on census data list Madison County as the poorest county in Idaho.

The mobile pantry will be set up every month on the third Tuesday. Donations and volunteers are always welcomed. 

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