Addressing Food Education and Nutrition in Blaine County, Idaho

The Blaine County Food Council is a coalition that works to create a platform for the essential workers of the region, who are essential to the ski resorts, restaurants and landscape. Co-executive director Brooke Pace McKenna stated in an interview that Blaine County is a “county of contrasts”, with a very affluent population living alongside a generous population that funds the coalition's work. The council encourages communication, coordination, and collaboration among local food system stakeholders through quarterly networking events. Judy Foster, a retired and longtime resident of Hailey, regularly spends her Thursdays at the Coalition Against Hunger in Bellevue. This program has enabled Mia Maldonado, a breaking news reporter at the Idaho Statesman, to cover stories related to crime, education, growth and politics.

Mia moved to Treasure Valley for college, where she graduated from Idaho College with a degree in Spanish and international political economy. She previously interned at the Idaho Capital Sun through Voces Internship of Idaho, an equity-driven program for Latino youth. The Coalition Against Hunger is a non-profit organization that focuses on providing healthy food to a community that lives in a situation of great inequality. Since opening its doors in 2003, it has become much more than a traditional food bank. It is a space where locals can find a food pantry, heated greenhouses, a kitchen and a communal dining room.

Moulton said she has encountered many Spanish-speaking newcomers who volunteer to prepare meals for the community and often bring their home-cooked food from Latin America to Blaine County. The Idaho Small Business Development Center empowers small business success by providing free, confidential consulting and low-cost training to entrepreneurs across Idaho. Moulton said the coalition has earned a reputation for being a safe space for people not only to find healthy food but also to live in Blaine County. The Blaine County Food Council works diligently to address issues of food education and nutrition in the county. Through quarterly networking events, they create an environment for essential workers and provide resources such as free community meals, food pantries, heated greenhouses and communal dining rooms. The coalition also works with the Idaho Small Business Development Center to provide free consulting and low-cost training to entrepreneurs across Idaho.