Food Sovereignty and Self-Sufficiency in Blaine County, Idaho: Achieving a Thriving Community Food System

The Blaine County Food Council (BCFC) is a program coordinated by Amy Mattias and Stacy Whitman of the Local Food Alliance. This initiative encourages all Blaine County residents to join forces in order to create a thriving community food system. Through this program, many Spanish-speaking newcomers have volunteered to cook community meals and often bring their home-cooked dishes from Latin America to Blaine County. The BCFC also hosts quarterly networking events to promote communication, coordination, and collaboration among local food system stakeholders. Judy Foster, a retired and longtime resident of Hailey, regularly visits the Coalition Against Hunger in Bellevue on Thursdays.

Here, she can enjoy a free community meal and meet other locals. Brooke Pace McKenna, the co-executive director of the Coalition Against Hunger, said that Blaine County is a “county of contrasts” due to its rich population and generous donors who fund the coalition's work. Mia Maldonado joined the Idaho Capital Sun after working as a breaking news reporter at the Idaho Statesman. Born and raised in Coeur d'Alene, Mia moved to Treasure Valley for college where she graduated from Idaho College with a degree in Spanish and international political economy. She also 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 located in the Wood River Valley, south of Ketchum and Sun Valley.

Since opening its doors in 2003, it has become much more than a traditional food bank. It is now a space where locals can find a food pantry, heated greenhouses, a kitchen, and a communal dining room. 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. After an evaluation of the local food system, team members were inspired to continue collaborating on issues related to food sovereignty and self-sufficiency. This led to the formation of the Blaine County Food Council (BCFC).

Through this program, Moulton said she has met many Spanish-speaking newcomers who volunteer to cook community meals and often bring their home-cooked food from Latin America to Blaine County. The BCFC is committed to helping Blaine County residents achieve food sovereignty and self-sufficiency. Through its initiatives, it seeks to create an equitable food system that provides access to healthy foods for all residents. The BCFC also works with local organizations to provide educational opportunities about nutrition and cooking classes for those interested in learning more about healthy eating habits. The BCFC is also working with local farmers and ranchers to increase access to locally grown produce. This initiative helps support local farmers while providing fresh produce for residents.

Additionally, the BCFC is working with local businesses to increase access to healthy foods by providing incentives for businesses that offer healthy options. The BCFC is committed to creating an equitable food system that provides access to healthy foods for all residents of Blaine County. Through its initiatives, it seeks to promote food sovereignty and self-sufficiency while supporting local farmers and businesses. By working together with local organizations, businesses, and residents, the BCFC is helping create a thriving community food system in Blaine County.