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Hunger awareness month kicks off amid lean times in Idaho

October is Hunger Awareness Month, and the state marked the occasion this morning when Lt. Gov. Brad Little joined a wide array of religious leaders, anti-hunger activists and children from the Boise Urban Garden School to make it official. The children presented a basket of locally grown produce from farmer’s markets and community gardens around the state, and Little said he’s seen first-hand in his hometown of Emmett the success of interfaith efforts to get fresh, local produce to the needy. Idaho is ranked as the 24th hungriest state, Little noted, and it has the 10th highest percentage of food-insecure children under age 5. “It is important at this point in time, particularly in Idaho where we have so much agricultural products, that there are people who are hungry,” Little said, calling on Idahoans to “be aware of the necessity to take care of our own.”

The event came as a recent survey by the Northwest Area Foundation found that in the past year, 55 percent of Idahoans said they’ve cut down on the amount they’ve spent on food; 32 percent had problems paying for basic necessities like their mortgage, rent or heat; 33 percent had trouble affording medical care; 26 percent said someone in their household has lost a job; and 38 percent said someone in their household has had their work hours cut. “This poll confirms what we are seeing in Idaho,” said Mary Chant, executive director of the Community Action Partnership Association of Idaho. “We’re seeing a whole new group of people who’ve never experienced financial difficulties of this magnitude. It’s the former high-earning, two-income families who’ve lost a job and have a heavy debt load. It’s putting a huge stress on our services, because we’re still working with all the low-income families we’ve typically helped in the past.”


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Betsy Z. Russell covers Idaho news from The Spokesman-Review's bureau in Boise.

Named best state-based political blog in Idaho for 2013 by The Fix

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