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ID Ranchers Wrangle Up Meals for Idaho Foodbank in 2021

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Idaho Foodbank has increased its food distribution by 44% during the pandemic

A group of Idaho ranchers are riding to the rescue for people in need during the pandemic.

Gem State companies are dedicating 100 meals that include beef every day of 2021 to the Idaho Foodbank, which will distribute the meals to its partner organizations across the state.

John Hepton owns Hepton Livestock in Nampa. He wanted to come up with an ambitious idea to address food insecurity.

"We've done this on the very local level, but maybe there's a way we could do more than what we're doing today," said Hepton. "And so, it just kind of came to me that maybe we could do something big across Idaho like 100 meals a day."

Since the pandemic began, Idaho Foodbank has ramped up its services. As of November, 65% of its partners reported seeing an increase in the number of clients they saw compared with the previous year.

The Idaho Foodbank is holding its IdahoKind campaign to collect $200,000 and serve up to one million meals between Martin Luther King Day and Valentine's Day.

Carlyn Blake, development manager with the Idaho Foodbank, said the economic fallout from COVID-19 has led to rising demand but, as usually happens this time of year, donations peaked over the holidays.

"We saw a 44% increase in the amount of food that we had to distribute during the pandemic," said Blake. "And so we're obviously wanting to sustain that to be able to continue to feed Idahoans who are experiencing food insecurity."

Hepton said it's crucial to get Idahoans the nutrition they need during these hard times.

"Whether it's kids, parents," said Hepton. "If you can't meet your basic needs, then it's pretty hard to function beyond that."

Other companies helping with the 100 meals include Reynolds Creek Calf Ranch, Weiser River Cattle Feeders, Wilder Cattle Feeders and Wilson Creek Cattle Feeders.