Kootenai Food Bank Facing Donation Shortage

COEUR D’ALENE — A cut in federal funding and fewer donations is making it tough for the Kootenai County Food Bank to get by, which means its giving out less food to more clients.

Every Wednesday, you’ll find Jeff Shields at the Kootenai County Food Bank. He wouldn’t miss it for the world.

“It’s been seven years since Thanksgiving I’ve been doing it, ever since I needed food,” he said.

Shields fills food boxes with rice, cereal and canned vegetables. He wants to give more but he can’t.

“It feels like I’m giving people spaghetti but not the sauce, or I’m giving them tuna but not the bread. I’m giving them half of what they really need,” Shields said.

Angie Lee, director of the food bank, says donations are down 20-percent from this time last year, adding that neighbors have their own expenses and less donations to send to the food bank.

“Donations are down, business is up,” Lee said.

The other problem is that federal funding was also cut by $5,000. Fewer donations means smaller food boxes for 71-year-old Connie Holmes.

“There’s hardly anything here, we need to get more over here,” she said,

The boxes weigh almost ten pounds less than they did a few months ago. So what’s in a few pounds? Well it’s really a big difference when it comes down to families no longer getting a few extra peanut butter sandwiches and an extra box of macaroni and cheese for dinner or beef stew.

With less food, Connie Holmes is getting creative.

“We add to our hamburger,” she said. “Make it stretch we can get three or four meals on a deal of hamburger.”

Angie Lee is confident the donations will be back, she just doesn’t know when.

“It’s a hard time for us, makes it a hard time for everyone. But we’re here, always will be here,” Lee said.

While Lee is confident the Food Bank will always be a resource for the community, Jeff Shields will be there as well helping out.

“I won’t stop volunteering just because there’s no food, there’s other stuff that needs to be done,” he said.