The Teton Valley Food Pantry
▪ The mission of the Teton Valley Food Pantry (TVFP) is to provide a food pantry, including the solicitation of food and / or financial donations, for the purpose of distributing food to low-income and unemployed households, including to relieve situations of emergency distress. More simply, the Teton Valley Food Pantry helps those in need obtain food and gain financial security.
▪ The Teton Valley Food Pantry was started in November 2008 as a partnership between St. Francis of the Tetons Episcopal Church and the Rotary Club of Teton Valley. The TVFP obtained 501(c)3 status in 2012. The food pantry relocated in October 2018 to the recently developed Teton Business and Education Center located on Highway 33 just north of Driggs. The Food Pantry employs two part-time staff members who work with volunteers and partners to ensure that there is a healthy variety of food available and that everyone in need isserved. The TVFP serves the communities of Alta, Wyoming, in addition to Victor, Driggs, Tetonia, and Felt, Idaho.
▪ The TVFP hasthree weekly scheduled food distributions; we also provide emergency, walk-in or distributions by appointment. We operate a choice pantry, meaning our clients choose the food items they want, need and will use. Since COVID we have adopted a “personal shopper” model where staff and volunteers work with our clientsto gather the itemsspecified on theirshopping lists. We take pride in ensuring that everyone is offered fresh fruit, vegetables, meat, milk, eggs and other items based on preferences, dietary and cultural needs.
▪ The following table shows the number of household and individual distributions our pantry provided during the past three years. In 2019 the TVFP board implemented changesto improve the quality and types of food we provide by consistently offering fresh, perishable food choices to our clients. Over the past 2 years we have seen significant increases in the numbers served; we also saw changes in the faces of our clients. Fresh foods provide more than just a basic need, they also provide personal options, healthy, nutritious choices and help show compassion to a household or individual needing assistance. Additionally in 2019 we started expanding the number of food distributions from two per month to the current schedule of three distributions per week.
▪ We are lucky to have a significant and dedicated workforce of ~ 90 volunteers who donate over 200 hours of their time and labor each month to the pantry. With the increased number of clients we also work diligently to increase efficiencies and collaborate with members of our community such as Food Rescue, community businesses and agriculture organizations, University of Idaho Agricultural Extension Service, Community Resource Center of Teton Valley, Hispanic Resource Center, Seniors West of the Tetons, Teton County Schools, Faith and Community Based Service Groups, Community Foundation of Teton Valley, Teton County, Idaho (Government) and the Idaho Diaper Bank.
All of these groups (and many others) are actively involved in the provision of services to individuals and households in need and who help support the non-profit organizations in Teton Valley. We work collaboratively to assist our community members in need of fiscal assistance, health related care, housing, food and other needs.
▪ As a volunteer-based non-profit organization, the Teton Valley Food Pantry (TVFP) is reliant on the donation of time, funding & resources from individuals & organizations of local, state and federal origin. The TVFP provides assistance throughout Teton County, Idaho and western Wyoming and is committed to supporting individuals, families & communities within and across state & local boundaries. The Teton Valley Food Pantry receives support from the Idaho Food Bank through federally funded programs such as The Emergency Food Assistance Program (TEFAP). The TVFP serves as the central point of contact for food assistance in Teton Valley and works closely with other organizations providing food assistance to families and individuals in need.
▪ Socio-economic and population changes in the valley, changes in state, local and national government, the economy, employment, climate, environmental changes and natural disasters can significantly impact our community and the needs of people in Teton Valley. Our community, like most, is still seriously impacted by the COVID pandemic; we continue to balance and manage an economy that could plummet if the virus re-surges. Our community must juggle booming tourism, environmental concerns, seasonal employment, and a housing market that is displacing many local residents. The high cost of building and real estate impacts not only local residents but also businesses and especially non-profits. The TVFP is currently faced with relocating our pantry for the 2nd time in less than three years. The availability of affordable commercial space that can adequately meet the needs of the pantry poses a significant challenge. Like our clients we are faced with escalating facility and operational costs in addition to the cost of food; and since the COVID pandemic the majority of our food is purchased primarily through the generosity and donations of our community.
▪ While the majority of the residents served in Teton Valley live in Idaho, we also serve Wyoming residents living west of the Tetons where significant percentages of the residents (from Wyoming and Idaho) live below the poverty line or below the “ALICE” ** threshold. Most notably are those working in low paying seasonal positions such as the ski resorts, local businesses, plus our Hispanic Community, and younger households (less that 60 years in age). Low wages and high housing costs place many Teton Valley workers in need of supplemental services for basic needs such as food, housing, transportation, family and health care.
Additionally, an estimated 4000+ individuals residing in Teton Valley commute daily to the Jackson area for employment – while still struggling to meet their basic needs. In Teton County Wyoming and Idaho, 29% and 36% of households (respectively) and an estimated 55% of our Hispanic community fall below the ALICE income level and are considered ‘working poor”.
▪ In a recent grant application, we were asked who we serve and why….
-We serve anyone who comes to us in need of food - without discrimination and without judgement.
- We help others because we care deeply, because it is the right thing to do, and because it matters. As individuals we can each make a difference; but together we can do so, so much more.
** Asset Limited, Income Constrained, Employed (ALICE). The ALICE Threshold is a realistic standard developed from the Household Survival Budget, a measure that estimates the minimal cost of the five basic. household necessities – housing, child care,food, transportation, and health care.