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Wallace Food Bank facing record highs and record low

by JOSH McDONALD
Local Editor | February 24, 2023 1:00 AM

WALLACE — The Wallace Food Bank may have changed leadership, but the goal remains the same.

Last summer, when Pastor Art Flemming told his group of volunteers that he was planning on retiring and transitioning out of his role as the food bank’s president, his plan was to make sure that he left the food bank in a place of stability so that it could endure after he was gone.

“Art wanted to have a solid, local core group of volunteers to take over as board members,” said new president Michael Hoffman.

Hoffman, along with Margie Grandpre, Sallie Sprute and Scott Leitch decided that they would be that core group.

Hoffman has expressed that his passion is the community, and after he moved into the area in 2021, he was compelled to get involved in as much of the community as possible.

And from the way he describes himself, it seems like a pretty good fit.

“I’ve volunteered at the Wallace Food Bank since moving here from Coeur d’Alene in 2021,” Hoffman said. “I’m retired, have been blessed in life, work part time at St. Vinny’s Thrift store in Osburn, understand the need in the greater Wallace and Shoshone areas; have the heart, compassion, commitment, passion and desire to help out, make a difference as needed for individuals and families.”

One of the biggest concerns Hoffman and his board now face is a stark decrease in food donations over the past few years — all while the need has increased beyond belief.

According to Hoffman, in 2022 the Wallace Food Bank received less than half of what it had received during the previous two years.

The food bank is serving more than double the number of families now, compared to two years ago.

One of the main ways people had previously gotten involved was through Wallace Harvest Foods, where customers could purchase a pre-packaged paper sack of food that would then be donated to the food bank, but that participation has decreased as well.

As a nonprofit, faith-based organization, there isn’t a large stash of money sitting somewhere for Hoffman and the board to tap into, they rely on the generosity of their fellow locals, as well as other organizations that have made feeding the needy their mission as well.

“We give out fresh food vouchers to the individuals and families we serve,” Hoffman told the News-Press. “But we have very little, if any, backup supply of food after each month of distribution, and in order to keep up with the need the food bank has been purchasing food.”

Hoffman has been in contact with local businesses like Lookout Ski, Dave Smith Motors and the Wallace Chamber of Commerce about doing some targeted food drives in order to replenish their stores, some plans have been laid and others are forthcoming.

If locals would like to donate any items, the food bank has put together a list of the things that have the biggest impact on their families.

Tomato products (sauce, diced tomatoes, etc.), pasta, cake/brownie mix, dry cereal, dry beans, canned beans (excluding kidney beans), boxed maccaroni and cheese and Hamburger Helper, canned veggies and canned meat (tuna, chicken, etc).

And while those are just the simplest way a person can donate, the option still exists to go to Wallace Harvest Foods and purchase one of their pre-packaged bags.

“The Wallace Food Bank will be open for food drop-offs each first Thursday of the month from 4 to 5 p.m. starting on March 2,” Hoffman said.

Lookout Ski will be hosting a canned food drive on March 31 from 8 a.m. through noon, offering $20 ski passes for anyone that brings five non-perishable food items.

Other upcoming food drives will be announced on the Wallace Food Bank Facebook page.

For anyone who is in need, food is distributed on the third Thursday of each month from 3-5 p.m. at the Prayer Station (215 Fourth St.) in Wallace.

For more information, contact Michael Hoffman at 916-764-9252 or by email at wallacefoodbank@gmail.com.

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