The eighth annual Palouse Cares Food Drive and Public Auction will begin at 9 a.m. Saturday at the Eastside Marketplace in Moscow.Palouse Cares is a non-profit charity organization founded in 2006. The organization has provided Moscow and Pullman food banks with more than 200,000 pounds of food, said Rick Minard, president of Palouse Cares.
“We just have a passion for trying to end hunger in the Palouse,” Minard said. “We want to fill the food banks with as much food as we possibly can to give those families that are struggling financial mean to have food on their table three times a day, seven days a week.”
Most of the people who use the food banks are working, on disability or their food stamps just won’t make it through the end of the month, said Bev Bafus, director of the Trinity Baptist Church Food Pantry. She said a minimum wage job doesn’t provide a living wage, and for many after paying rent and other bills there isn’t much left. She said food is the number one discretionary thing that goes out the window when money is tight.
“I like to say we are all one car transmission away from that,” Bafus said. “If it goes out and you are living right on the edge and you receive a bill for $900, you won’t make it.”
Food reserves are currently low at the pantry, she said. The food brought in through Palouse Cares has helped the Trinity Baptist Church Food Pantry through to the month of February in past years.
“In the Palouse, you don’t really see the people who use the food banks because the people are your next door neighbor,” Minard said. “The majority of the people who use the food banks are not homeless. They just don’t have enough money to make it through the end of the week.”
This year will be the first year Palouse Cares will expand to 15 of the surrounding communities on the Palouse, Minard said.
“We want to help every single one of those food banks,” he said. “That’s why we are doing these food drives in all these towns simultaneously.”
In addition to the food drive, Palouse Cares hosts an auction to raise money for the food pantries. The silent auction will only take place in Moscow, Pullman and Colfax. The live auction will take place in Moscow and Pullman. Auction items include cars, local business gift certificates, golf trips, Coeur d’Alene Resort gift packages and more, he said.
In the last six years, the silent and live auctions have provided over $140,000 of monetary donations to non-profits such as Backyard Harvest, Success by 6 and Family Promise, Minard said.
Moscow and Pullman have provided many volunteers for the event, especially the universities, he said. Between just Greek members, residence hall members, student athletes and the ROTC, he said there are about 500 volunteers.
Emily Aizawa can be reached at email@example.com