Feed the Children does just that

50,000 pounds of food, personal care items distributed Wednesday

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SHAWN GUST/Press Eli Robertson, 13, volunteer for Heart of the City Church, arranges food donation boxes in a recipients trunk Wednesday during a pick at the Coeur d'Alene church. Feed the Children, Heart of the City Church and Community Action Partnership collaborated to provide more than 50 pounds of non perishable food to 400 voucher holders.

When Teresa Parker pulled her car into the Heart of the City Church parking lot, service started immediately.

Smiling volunteers popped open her back doors and hauled in heavy boxes of food. Carolyn Shewfelt trotted up to Parker's window, offering bananas and cheery greetings.

"Can I get you guys a candy bar?" asked Shewfelt, program manager for the Community Action Partnership food bank, with a sly smile. "Come on! Chocolate!"

Parker was nodding, smiling, a little tearful.

"God bless you guys," she said.

The Parkers were among 400 families to benefit from a distribution of 50,000 pounds of food and personal care items in Coeur d'Alene on Wednesday. The food was provided by international nonprofit Feed the Children, and distributed by the Kootenai County CAP, with the help of Heart of the City Church.

Families had earlier picked up tickets for food collection, and exchanged the paper on Wednesday for a 25-pound box of nonperishables and 10-pound box of personal care items.

Parker said the provisions will make a significant difference for her family, including her husband and their 21-year-old son living with them.

She is on workman's comp, she said. Since her husband was laid off, the family has sold its other car to pay the mortgage, she said, and has struggled to afford the basics.

"It's really, really hard," the Hayden woman said.

It's also a little shocking, she noted, as her family has never had to rely on food banks or food distributions before.

"It's pretty new to us," Parker said. "One of these days we'll get back."

Doug Lasreed endured the drive from St. Maries for the bounty that volunteers slid into his car.

Lasreed recently lost his job, he said. Lately he has made do by chopping and selling wood, just "hoping something will happen," he said.

"It makes a world of difference," Lasreed said of the extra food. "Food is so expensive these days, and gas is what's killing us."

It didn't help that his home was just robbed, he said, which was a surprise.

"I live up in a cabin in the woods. I live in the middle of nowhere," he said. "I hope this country gets better than it is today."

Shewfelt said Feed the Children designated Kootenai County for a food distribution based on the area's low employment and income statistics.

"A lot of people are just saying, 'thank you, thank you so much,'" Shewfelt said.

As folks drove in for their share, volunteers educated them on the food banks in the area. Fresh fruit was handed to drivers, and a bag of Milk Bones was set to the side for recipients' dogs.

Shewfelt noted that in her three years, the CAP food bank has never been so low on food.

"It's unnerving," she said.

Demand is up because school is out, she said, the shelves empty of items like pasta, cereal, boxed dinners, ravioli, mac and cheese. She encouraged folks to donate, even by buying $5 or $10 pre-made bags at Super 1 Foods.

"The food bank right now is really hurting," Shewfelt said.

Picking up her family's portion, Andrea Carter said her family is struggling to afford healthy food these days.

With four kids at home, Carter can't work because she's pregnant and high risk, she said. Her family was taken off food stamps because her husband just got a small bump in pay at his Silverwood job.

"We work through it," the Hayden woman said of their financial pinch. "Things like this, Community Action Partnership, it's very helpful."

Adam Vinson and his girlfriend, Tayia Forgey, were grateful for the extra food, they said.

The couple is trying to provide for their 9-year-old, they said, with Forgey receiving a stipend from the Coeur d'Alene Tribe and Vinson still job hunting.

"Terrible," The Post Falls man said of how it's going. "I've been looking for about six months."

Side jobs help keep boredom at bay, he said, but it's hard to be optimistic.

The CAP food bank, and Wednesday's distribution, at least help with survival.

"Things could be worse," he conceded. "Because of events like this (they're not)."

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