The Hunger Coalition Fulfills A Dream

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Bloom Community Food Center readies to open

By Mike McKenna

There’s an old saying that we should “bloom where we are planted.”

For well over a decade, The Hunger Coalition did just that. They made the most out of their imperfect building on the southern edge of Bellevue. The space was too small to do everything our local food bank needed to do. So they adapted and scrambled to meet a steadily growing need for food assistance in Blaine County—a need that has been dramatically impacted by the COVID-19 crisis.

Despite the challenges that the coronavirus pandemic has created, The Hunger Coalition has recently fulfilled a dream they had worked on for a decade. They have moved into a newly remodeled facility on the other side of Honeysuckle Drive.

“This is absolutely a dream come true,” Jeanne Liston, The Hunger Coalition’s executive director,  said about the new facility.

The 14,000-square-foot building and four-acre property that used to house Clearwater Landscaping and Power Equipment is now home to the Bloom Community Food Center (BCFC). The BCFC houses offices for their 19 staff members, a partner room for other nonprofits to use, a commercial kitchen, a huge increase in cold and dry storage, and two large greenhouses.

Adding a commercial kitchen is the biggest change from their old facility. It will be used for education classes, to allow them to process some of the foods they grow at their Bellevue location, as well as at both the Bloom Community Farm and Hope Garden in Hailey.

“Our goal is to be a community resource and to be as sustainable as we can. This facility allows us to be more efficient. We can buy and store more food at better costs and we can continue to grow and produce healthy foods,” said Brooke Pace McKenna, who serves as the director of operations for The Hunger Coalition. “This new facility makes a positive change in the lives of people in our community.”

Founded in 2005, The Hunger Coalition had been seeing a steady growth in the needs for their services well before COVID hit. They knew they needed more space and had been fundraising for the project for several years. They are happy to report that the BCFC was not only completed on time, but it came in under budget. 

While the facility has yet to open to the public because of the ongoing pandemic, they are hoping to do a ribbon cutting in June.

“We want to eliminate food insecurity in Blaine County and you can only do that by trying to solve all the issues that create it,” Brooke said. “This new facility isn’t about us or just for us. It benefits everybody.”

For more information about The Hunger Coalition, go to TheHungerCoalition.org or call 208-788-0121.

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