Community Food Basket receives massive donation during ongoing crisis

A forklift brings in pallets of food into the Idaho Falls Community Food Basket as part of a 42,000-pound donation by The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. | Eric Grossarth, EastIdahoNews.com

IDAHO FALLS — The Idaho Falls Community Food Basket received a massive donation Tuesday aimed at combating the growing need caused by the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.

From Salt Lake City, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints drove a semi-truck loaded with 42,000 pounds of food. The donation is the second this year for the church in response to an increased need for food during the pandemic.

“Both times have helped pull ourselves out of dire circumstances,” Executive Director Ariel Jackson said. “This COVID pandemic has affected us incredibly with the loss of some key food drives that we normally have during the year. We’re down about 100,000 pounds of food.”

As financial hardships have hit many families during the pandemic, Jackson said their typical 1,100 families who receive food has grown to over 2,000. Tuesday’s donation will help to get families through the upcoming holidays.

“We anticipate that our numbers will continue to increase for the next year while these families try to recover,” Jackson said.

The donation came from food stored at the Bishops’ Storehouse in Utah. The facility covers 570,391-square-feet on 38.5 acres where the LDS church launches humanitarian efforts around the world. To help get these goods to places like Idaho Falls, the church operates Deseret Transporation, a trucking company dedicated to moving the welfare items around.

Deseret Transporttion driver Craig Lacey waves as he delivers a load of food to Community Food Basket — Idaho Falls. | Eric Grossarth, EastIdahoNews.com

“This has really been touching to me, to hear what’s been happening here in Idaho Falls,” Craig Lacey, the truck driver of Tuesday’s donation said. “It’s a lot different than hauling widgets for Walmart, it’s a very rewarding experience helping people.”

Lacey explained that even some of the items donated Tuesday were grown right here at farmers in eastern Idaho before being milled in Utah. Other items like peanut butter are canned by volunteers in Houston, Texas, before reaching the tables of people in need.

“I really enjoy this work,” Lacey said. “It is so rewarding to go to areas where what we do is so much appreciated.”

John Strobel, a local Latter-day Saint church leader, said so far in 2020 the church has donated 16 million pounds of food to food banks across the United States. Strobel went on to explain for him helping out through one of these operations brings him joy knowing the hungry will not go without food.

“This is a gift from the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, but there are other people involved in this,” Strobel said. “We work closely with Community Food Basket, who is represented by the Regional Council for Christian Ministries which is eight other faiths in our community.”

Along with this work is the ongoing food drive. People can learn more by visiting JustServe.org or by contacting Community Food Basket — Idaho Falls. Jackson explained that they hope to collect 120,000 pounds of food and Tuesday’s donation helped. Strobel also said to help in this effort several local businesses have joined in on the effort.

“It’s unbelievable the amount of people that have stepped up,” Strobel said. “There are literally thousands of people involved in this effort and I want to thank them.”