Community Food Basket

A volunteer stacks boxes of soups at the Community Food Basket warehouse in November. The food basket is launching a series of fundraisers to fully purchase the warehouse by the end of 2020.

Community Food Basket of Idaho Falls is launching a yearlong “Hunger Games” competition fundraiser to purchase a food storage warehouse.

In the past, the Community Food Bank went through a period where it changed warehouses three times over an 18-month stretch. Executive Director Dave Manson said the organization was thrilled with the five-year lease it currently has for the warehouse but would be able to stabilize the program and save thousands of dollars a year by owning the location.

“We have the opportunity, if we can raise these funds, to buy the place we’re in now and establish a stable legacy for the community going forward,” Manson said.

Purchasing the warehouse means collecting nearly $250,000 in donations by the end of 2020. The Community Food Basket will kick off the efforts to raise that money with the ”Hunger Games” event, the group’s first standalone fundraiser in its 40-year history.

The event planning was spearheaded by Idaho Falls councilwoman and frequent volunteer Michelle Ziel-Dingman. She called herself an example of how important food banks can be, as her family relied on them off and on when she was growing up.

“These are the parents they are trying. They are doing what they need to do, whether it’s going to the food basket or the Salvation Army or anywhere else, to make sure that their kids are fed. That’s why places like this exist,” Ziel-Dingman said.

The event will be a mostly non-athletic competition where 12 teams will compete in trivia, cooking challenges and quick games in Freeman Park. Bank of Commerce is the title sponsor for the event and many of the teams are sponsored by local companies though a handful are made of friends and volunteers, including a group of teenagers organized through the Idaho Falls Civitans.

Families and children are major recipients of the food basket’s supplies. Manson said that in July, the Community Food Basket helped provide food to 4,519 individuals, more a third of whom were younger than 18.

The event will begin at 9 a.m. Saturday at the bandshell in Freeman Park. Registration for new teams is closed but people are encouraged to attend to watch the competition and get involved with future fundraisers.

Contact Brennen with news tips at 208-542-6711.

Kauffman reports on health care and city events for the Post Register.