Anti-hunger advocates gathered on the Statehouse steps today, holding signs with slogans including, “No more hunger in Idaho!” “Food is a basic right” “Hungry for Justice” “Idaho is the 8th hungriest state in the nation” and “No one should suffer from hunger.” Religious leaders from groups such as Catholic Charities of Idaho, the Interfaith Alliance, and several area churches spoke, and called for a targeted grocery tax credit to help alleviate hunger among Idaho’s poor.
“We do have the resources, we have the experience, we have the knowledge to eliminate hunger, but we do not have the collective will,” Marie Wilske, parish social ministry coordinator for Catholic Charities of Idaho, told the crowd. Retired Presbyterian Pastor Ed Keener said, “We come together because we think that faith is a healing force in our society.”
The advocates, some of whom fasted to help make their point about hunger, called for amending HB 81 to target it toward the low-income, index it to inflation, and allow families that receive food stamps to fully participate. That would remake the bill more along the lines of how Gov. Butch Otter first proposed it, as a targeted credit for the poor, with some changes. The bill as it stands now would increase the grocery tax credit for all Idahoans from $20 to $50 a year, regardless of income levels, and from $35 to $70 for seniors. It’s on the amending order in the Senate. The Senate went to that order today, but didn’t get to the bill.
Betsy Z. Russell covers Idaho news from The Spokesman-Review's bureau in Boise.
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