ISU Headlines

ISU, Idaho Food Bank to host Eastern Idaho Hunger Summit Oct. 19

Posted October 12, 2007

As Laura Vailas, Ph.D., travels through Idaho speaking on hunger in the state, she notices many lack knowledge of this fundamental problem.

“When I go out and speak to people about hunger in southeast Idaho, they are usually shocked to hear how much hunger exists in their own backyard,” said Vailas. “Nearly 15 percent of Idaho's population is food insecure, and 3.7 percent actually experience hunger. We simply must do something about this.”

To promote hunger awareness, the Idaho State University Department of Health and Nutrition and the Idaho Food Bank will cosponsor the Eastern Idaho Hunger Summit in the Pond Student Union Building's Wood River Room Friday, Oct. 19. The summit run from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Panel discussions and speakers will focus on hunger issues specifically in eastern Idaho and strategize goals and plans for reducing the problem. The kenote speaker at noon will be Mike Sanders, creative director at MSVM Group.

Students and the public are invited to attend. Those attending are asked to preregister with the Idaho Food Bank by calling (208) 233-8811. The cost is $10 for students and $15 for the public. The cost includes breakfast and lunch for attendees.

The Gem State was named the eighth hungriest state in the nation, according to a 2005 survey by the U.S. Department of Agriculture. The same survey shows 14.6 percent of Idahoans are food insecure, or unsure of obtaining food because of low income or lack of resources, compared to the national average of 11.4 percent.

Roy Lacey, administrator of branch facilities for the Idaho Food Bank in Pocatello, said the goals of the summit are twofold: to inform eastern Idaho on the seriousness of hunger in the area, and to plan what the area can do to resolve the problem. Lacey hopes participants will leave with a “fire in their hearts,” encouraging them to take action in their communities.

The summit will feature a panel discussion on hunger with representatives from various agencies in eastern Idaho including Eastern Idaho Community Action Program, ISU Department of Health and Nutrition Sciences, Idaho Department of Health and Welfare,

Northern Bingham Food Bank, Catholic Charities of Idaho and Southeast Idaho Community Action Agency.

Breakout sessions are scheduled for the afternoon in which specific groups, from students to church organizations, will learn ways to combat hunger within their spheres and set goals for eradicating the problem in the state. State Rep. Donna Boe will host a session titled “Advocacy versus Lobbying,” teaching participants how to effectively work with congress members on issues like hunger.

Vailas will be the welcome speaker for the summit.  She received her doctorate in nutritional sciences from the University of Wisconsin. Vailas serves in many capacities beyond her role as ISU’s first lady. She is the director of development and education for the Public Hospital Cooperative. She also volunteers on the governing board of Portneuf Medical Center and with the Idaho Food Bank capital campaigns.

Lacey, of the food bank, also will speak on hunger statistics in Idaho, the role of the Idaho Food Bank in the community and how the public can help.

“Southeast Idaho can be one of the hardest places to live if you face hunger,” said Lacey. “Many people wear blinders and don’t see the problem. We don’t see what we don’t want to see. My hope is to rid the state of hunger so we won’t need food banks any longer.”

For more information on the summit, contact Lacey at (208) 233-8811 or Laura McKnight from ISU health and nutrition sciences at (208) 282-2961.