Printed on: November 22, 2012

Goodfellow Fund helps keep food on locals' tables

By Ruth Brown

The Idaho Falls Community Food Bank offers hope to what seems to be a never-ending line of people looking to feed their families.

On average, 40 to 50 families come to the food bank every day, Chairman Buck Horton said.

Dawn Bilodeau was among those standing in line Nov. 13.

"I have come before and it does help at the end of the month (the) most," Bilodeau said. "Sometimes, at the end of the month, I'm just eating peanut butter on bread. I'm grateful they have things like this."

Last year, the Idaho Falls Community Food Bank gave away about $1 million worth of food, and Horton anticipates an even greater need this year.

The Goodfellow Fund, started by the Post Co. in 1931, is now in its 81st year. Money donated to the fund is split between the Idaho Falls Community Food Bank, The Salvation Army and Family Assistance in Transitional Housing. 

In 2011, the Goodfellow Fund collected a record $93,613.02.

Jacquie Janibagian, who volunteers at the food bank every Tuesday, said she keeps coming back because she understands the importance of the service. She has helped almost every week for the past three years.

"I enjoy seeing the looks of relief on people's faces when we give them food," Janibagian said.

The number of people needing food has increased dramatically, Horton said.

Just 15 years ago, 15 families visiting the food bank would be an extremely busy day. The facility was feeding fewer than 10,000 people a year.

In 2011, the food bank fed more than 30,000 people.

During the past four months, Horton estimated the food bank provided food for about 800 families each month.

"In the 15 years I've had this position, I've had people come in the door and say, 'You helped me when I was down and out and you gave me that boost I needed to go forward,'" Horton said. "That's what I try to do -- to empower rather than enable."

Each bag of food includes items containing protein, such as beans or peanut butter, beef and milk, as well as potatoes, rice, pasta, vegetables and fruit, among other items.

"(Food bank users) are allowed six food boxes in a six-month period of time," Horton said. "It used to be that if you lost your job, you could find another one in six months, but now it may be years, so the need has grown."

Horton said the abuse rate -- people collecting food they don't really need -- is very low. Most people showing up really need the food.

Kaylee Whitaker has been coming to the food bank for the past four months. She's been unemployed since October.

"Money's tight, and this puts food in our bellies," she said.

Ruth Brown can be reached at 542-6750.

How to donate

Cut out the Goodfellow coupon (located on Page A1) and either send or hand-deliver it to the Post Register, at 333 Northgate Mile, along with a check or cash.