It’s harvest season and local food banks want surplus items to help needy families

BLACKFOOT— Nearly 200 volunteers showed up in Blackfoot on Saturday morning to pick, peel, boil and wrap corn for the community dinner table.

The Community Dinner Table is a multi-faith organization that serves weekly dinners in Bingham County for those in need of a meal or fellowship.

Lee Hammett and Randy Shiosaii are members of the board of directors of The Community Dinner Table and have held the corn hulling service event for the past 12 years.

“Richard Johnson donates corn. He is a farmer. He told me when the corn would be ready, and then I set the date,” Chiosai said. “This is the best corn in all of the western United States. He grows this specifically for us. He keeps it sweet because he knows the people we work with love it.”

Community members gather before sunrise to pick and husk the corn. It is then taken to the Jason Lee Methodist Church, where more volunteers wait for it to be processed and frozen.

“One year we actually did 7,000 corncobs, but I think Richard is trying to keep it at 5,000,” Hammett said.

Ultimately, the event results in about 150 gallons of freezing.

Packing corn at The Community Dinner Table in Blackfoot. | Morgan Mattis, EastIdahoNews.com

As summer approaches and cooler weather begins to emerge across eastern Idaho, farmers and gardeners are harvesting the freshest, locally grown produce.

Year after year, people in our area leave zucchini, cucumbers, tomatoes and other produce on the sidewalk for anyone who can use them. They bring it to church and work, trying to find a home for products they know they won’t be able to use before they spoil.

One in 11 residents of eastern Idaho is food insecure, according to the Idaho Food Bank. Gardeners can play a major role in providing fresh produce to those who struggle to feed their families.

Hammett says their organization and others like theirs can use any locally grown produce.

“If it grows in the ground, and if there is dirt on it, we take it,” he explains.

Donations are used by the Community Pantry, which is also run by The Community Dinner Table.

The Eastern Idaho Community Action Partnership’s Rexburg Outreach Food Pantry is seeking donations.

“We will accept any product that people want to bring in as long as they are not spoiled,” Bella Atriano of the Outreach Center told EastIdahoNews.com.

The Community Lunch Basket in Idaho Falls and The Giving Cupboard in Rigby are accepting donations to feed the community as well.

“We will accept any type of product. We prefer things that don’t need to be refrigerated immediately just because we have limited refrigerator space,” said Corey Ellis, vice president of Giving Cupboard.

If you’d like to donate your excess harvest, the Idaho Food Bank and Amble Harvest keep up-to-date information on food banks that accept locally grown produce.

If you’re looking for a hot meal in Bingham County, you can find one at The Community Dinner Table every Tuesday night from the beginning of October through the end of March.

corn in the cup
Morgan Mathis | EastIdahoNews.ccom

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