Jefferson Co. transitioning food pantry to nonprofit

A Jefferson County charitable organization is undergoing a change in name and management.

The Jefferson County Community Food Bank has been transferred to a Rigby-based nonprofit, and will operate under the name The Giving Cupboard.

Rebecca Squires, public information officer for Jefferson County, said the transfer will allow The Giving Cupboard to provide higher-quality services to those in need, and obtain more donations for the program.

The food bank previously operated by the social services office through the county clerk. It was operated by private donations only, and open once a month.

According to Squires, Jefferson County was the only county in Idaho to operate its own food bank; the rest were run through nonprofit organizations. This hindered the county’s ability to raise funds to support the program.

“There are many, many programs that help support food bank operations,” Squires said. “But as a government entity, we are not eligible to utilize those programs, such as the Idaho Food Bank.”

As a nonprofit, The Giving Cupboard will be able to access grants previously unavailable to the county-run pantry.

Jefferson County officials approached Naomi Schilling, president of The Giving Cupboard, in September to take over the operation. And she believes this opportunity will help grow the culture of giving in the area.

“We’re expanding on what the county has started and been doing for many years now, because we’ll bring more opportunity as a private organization,” Schilling said.

According to Schilling, operating costs of the Giving Cupboard will run around $3,000 per month. Currently, the operation has nine people on its steering committee, excluding volunteers, and aids approximately 60 families monthly in Jefferson County.

Schilling hopes to expand the program’s ability to distribute food in the county.

“According to the ALICE Report, one-third of families in Jefferson County live at or below the poverty line, and they are food insecure,” she said. “Those are the families that are really our target. We’re focused on how we help them put good, nutritious food on the table.”

Jefferson County will continue to provide assistance during the transition. The move is expected to be finalized this summer.

The Giving Cupboard is searching for a distribution center in the area as well. The food bank currently receives its inventory from a warehouse in Pocatello.

“There’s no shortage of food,” Schilling said. “It’s just us getting it here from Pocatello. But as soon as we get that new facility, we are hitting it hard and running.”

Once a new location is finalized, Schilling hopes to turn The Giving Cupboard into a shopping center-like experience for visitors.

“It will be set up similar to a small convenience store,” she said. “Clients will be going through The Giving Cupboard and selecting the items their family eats that they know how to prepare. They will not be getting a box of pre-packaged food.”

Schilling said the nonprofit also is looking for volunteers to help get the project off the ground.

“We need volunteers to help check in our clients and go through the pantry to help them find what they want, and to help in a whole variety of ways,” she said. “Stock shelves, load trucks, track everything.

“We just need people to help out in the community.”

To learn more about The Giving Cupboard, or to donate to the project, visit its Facebook page,

Reporter Marc Basham can be reached at 208-542-6763.