Annual Palouse food drive hopes to collect 43,000 pounds of food
For the ninth year in a row, volunteers will attempt to break their own record and collect 43,000 pounds of food in the annual Palouse Cares Food Drive.
“It’s a lot more than last year when we collected 38,000 pounds, but it was like 2 degrees outside,” said Rick Minard, Palouse Cares founder. “It should be warmer this year so hopefully we can get the same amount of volunteers or more and beat that easily.”
The Palouse Cares Food Drive will begin 9 a.m. Saturday in 12 communities throughout Latah County. Volunteers don’t need to bring anything but themselves, but Minard said they should remember to dress warm.
Palouse Cares is a door-to-door food drive that’s gradually gotten larger since its inception in 2005. It began with just a few Moscow Building Supply employees collecting a few hundred pounds of food for the Moscow Food Bank. Now, the food collected in each of the 12 communities Palouse Cares has expanded to (listed online at palousecares.org) will go to their respective food banks.
Minard liked the concept of the food drive and decided to expand. In 2006, Minard turned Palouse Cares into an official non-profit organization and reached out to local organizations for volunteers and donations for the annual Palouse Cares silent auction.
“Each year we got a few more employees and family members … it just kept growing and growing,” Minard said.
Minard said the University of Idaho has been instrumental in the success of the drive by supplying dozens of volunteers every year. The Athletic Department in particular is known for its partnership with the food drive, and according to Athletic Director Rob Spear, all of the Varsity athletic programs will participate in the food drive in one way or another this year.
“Our student athletes get excited to get out into the community and we’re very proud that every one of our programs will participate in some capacity,” Spear said. “It’s something we take a lot of pride in getting our student athletes out in the community.”
As Palouse Cares has aged, it’s also grown in scope. It’s no longer a single day of collecting food. There have been several “mini” food drives leading up to the big collection day, and tonight the Idaho men’s and women’s basketball teams and the swim and dive team will be in front of Rosaurs and Safeway in Moscow collecting food for Palouse Cares.
“The University of Idaho … they’re just awesome,” Minard said. “I really appreciate everything they do.”
Palouse Cares will also host its annual silent auction in Moscow and Pullman. The proceeds from the auction will go to the food banks as well as local charities that focus on food security. Minard said the auction this year will feature between 200 and 300 items including a new car and truck, trips, electronics, gift certificates and more.
“It’s a blue jeans and t-shirt auction, you don’t have to wear a suit and tie and can spend as much as you want,” Minard said.
Palouse Cares has donated to the Moscow Food Bank since it began, and food bank director Linda Nichols said the impact has been tremendous.
“It’s the biggest (food drive in the area) so the impact is really great because it helps us get supplies to help us for the next few months,” Nichols said. “It’s helpful because of the variety of things that we get and it keeps us from having to buy.”
Minard said food insecurity is one of the major — but often overlooked — issues facing the Palouse. He said the winter is usually when expenses tend to increase for most families.
“Help people that need a little help,” Minard said. “If they can’t realize that the poverty is so strong and prevalent in Latah and Whitman County they live in a bubble. Hunger is here and hunger is in our community to help the people that need help.”
Minard said he encourages anyone to show up Saturday to volunteer and pre-registration isn’t necessary. Palouse Cares will provide maps and collection bags to teams of volunteers, and the event shouldn’t last more than a few hours. Minard said donating time is a great way for people who can’t necessarily donate items to give back to the community.
“There’s a lot of people that don’t have money to donate,” Minard said. “Our charity allows you to donate your time and time is so precious.”
Kaitlyn Krasselt can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org