February: It’s Winter Again

It was really cold last night, below zero when the sun went down. I am glad we had the propane heater set up outside while families were waiting to come in.

In the new building, there will be  a covered waiting area, as well as a room inside. One of my dreams is to have a video player set up  for those who are waiting with educational DVD’s, especially for the kids. There are many old Sesame Street segments about eating healthy food, exercise,  counting rhymes. Like  Lady Bug’s Picnic. Anyone remember that?   It doesn’t get any better than that!

As winter rolls in again and  32 states are struggling with  ice and snow, we’re fortunate to have snow. Winter Carnival drew record crowds, the ski area’s busy and hotels are filled.  The storms that hamper much of the rest of the country are God sends for mountain resorts like McCall. It  means more people are working and although much of the work is seasonal and part time, that is a good thing.

Still, the food pantry has been very busy with high numbers of new clients signed up in January. We’re often the safety net for families, especially during the long McCall winters .



Delivered: 18 boxes of diapers – in large cardboard containers ( Tom)
Delivered: Two large boxes of   bread. ( Karen)


Delivered produce in banana boxes (7 or 8?) from local grocery store (Verla)
Delivered 32  gallons of  milk (Seventh Day Adventist Church)
Delivered:  250 pounds of hamburger – in 5 cardboard boxes (Friede)
Delivered:  bags to Seniors  (Jerry)

Break down  cardboard. .

 3:00  Stock shelves

4:00  - 5:00
Youth Group  Volunteers arrive.
3 More Volunteers come to help.
2 More Volunteers. Thanks, but we’re o.k. Too crowded.
Open  up food bank for clients.
Break down diaper boxes and more cardboard. Fill up office floor space.
Serve majority  of Families.
Delivered:  box of books for children. (McCall Public Library)
Add emptied box to growing  stack of cardboard.
Abandon office. Cardboard wins.
Delivered: huge bags of pillows/sheets from local hotel. Throw them on top of cardboard mountain which collapses , spreading  like an oil slick in  front of   spare freezer in office.


Find relative safety at desk & chair .
Sign Up 4 new clients:  three pleasant, one  challenging..

5:15 – 6:00
Serve rest of  Families. Total for night over  50.
Give a hug or two. Speak Spanish.  Attempt  conversations with texting generation. Try to put names with faces.
Hold 5 day old baby!
Release tired Volunteers.
Load up 1/2 of recycling.


Close Up Food Bank.
Leave instructions for Youth Group.
Please  recycle!
Remote start my car.


Tip toe very gingerly over   rutted ice field to car.
Pray. Thank  God no one slipped  on the ice.
Instead of warm car, trunk’s popped open.  Wrong button. Again.
Grumble and mutter.
Drive home to  supportive  husband  and waiting dinner.


Write silly summary of today.
Thank God for  all the blessings.

Breaking down cardboard is an ongoing challenge.

Breaking down cardboard is an ongoing challenge.

Youth Volunteers At Work

Youth Volunteers At Work

Books Donated by McCall Library

Books Donated by McCall Library


“2014 – Another Year of Serving ”

Happy New Year to all our volunteers, supporters and friends who help  Heartland Hunger & Resource Center.

It’s already the second week of January, 2014. We have been very busy  during  the  last months of 2013 providing  families with holiday baskets for Thanksgiving and Christmas, as well as  food each week.

One of the highlights of December was handing out  gifts for the children. For several years now,  Santa’s helper Lynn McLin has organized this event and distributes the gifts  through the McCall Fire & EMS. Thanks to the generosity of churches and individuals, well over 100 children who had signed up received pajamas, socks and a book. In addition, we were able to give out “extras” – toys, books, clothing – for children whose families showed up at the firehouse, needing a Christmas  something for their kids.  . What a wonderful, cooperative effort it was!

Even though this year the holidays fell on Wednesday, our normal day to be open,   we made the decision to stay open. The volunteers who served on Christmas Day say that it was truly the best present  – for them -  because the clients were  so appreciative.  There were a lot of tears  of joy. It is for this  we’ve been called to serve, no matter what time, day or season.

The choice pantry has been operating since September and is very well received. Our clients like the freedom of taking what they can really use for their families.  Even though it’s crowded in our facility,  the children help their parents shop or they browse through books on the KidsShelf.  Our volunteers like the closer   relationships with the clients and hearing their stories.  I have to wonder why i t took me personally  so long to make the change and    can only attribute it to a less than perfect attitude  toward something which was untried. Sometimes, doing the same old becomes stultifying. And boring. And boring leads to uninspired complacency.  Seeing how” choice”  positively affects both families and volunteers, I was dead wrong.

Looking forward into this year, we build on the successes and mistakes of the last 13 years, even as new opportunities to serve come. Hopefully, we’ll  be moving to  our new building by fall and will probably do so in stages so that the food bank does not need to be closed at any time.   The needs of children are of particular interest for   HH&RC,  as is  getting healthier food, fresher produce and more  meat  for families.

It is exciting to be a part of  a community which works to help each  another. All of us at HH&RC  commit to helping  food insecure families this year to the best of our abilities.

Being blessed by this community we want to bless everyone   who comes  for help, “no matter what their reason for coming is.”




Trick Or Treat For Hunger

The Girl Scouts of Silver Sage Council are planning to Trick or Treat for Hunger on Wednesday, October 30th. The girls have asked local businesses and community organizations to set up food donation centers to collect non-perishable food items for Heartland Hunger and Resource Center. The girls decorated donation boxes and delivered them to all participating locations this past week. Now the girls need your help to get the boxes full. On October 30th, the girls will be out in full force in the downtown McCall area, dressed in costumes and pulling wagons to collect the donated food.

Donations can be dropped off during business hours at the following locations:



Idaho First Bank

Chamber of Commerce

Hotel McCall

Printshop McCall

Huckleberry Garden

Century 21

McCall Public Library

City of McCall

Additionally, October is Beans month for Heartland Hunger and they are asking specifically for donations of chili, pork and beans, canned beans and bean soups in addition to all other non-perishable food items. They are also requesting less quick fix meals and more nutritious staples such as unsweetened cereals, pasta, soups, peanut butter and jelly, rice, and canned fruits. They are also in need of donations of toilet paper.

Any questions regarding this event can be directed to Troop 416 Leader Katie Morgan. She can be reached at 208-315-4106.


A Busy Fall

September came and went very quickly. We were so blessed with donations, progress on the new building and great help.  It’s the unexpected things  which make “food banking” a  joy to help -  like a truckload of corn donated be a friend in Middleton.; like our youth group which stocked and  cleaned  after hours; like the words of appreciation shown for the choice pantry

It’s been a beautiful fall here in McCall. The trees have displayed themselves unabashedly in vivid oranges, yellows and gold.  Maine and Vermont, it’s not all pines and desert in Idaho !It is a good time to reflect and be thankful for all our  community support. We could not continue without you!

1,200 ears of corn, more or less. What abundance.

Mountain Life Church Youth Volunteers

The Choice Pantry. A Better Way to Help.

Soon the holidays will be here. We’re already planning for Thanksgiving and Christmas baskets, as well as the Christmas gifts for children of our clients. Last year we served well over 100 local families for each holiday with food for traditional meals.


Winter Hours

Beginning in October 2013 and through  March 2014, the food bank will be open Wednesdays from 4:00 to 6:00.

This seasonal change is due to the change in weather, to the cold and it getting darker much earlier. We want to ensure the safety of all our clients and volunteers. Due to the increased use of the choice pantry, we encourage clients to arrive prior to 4:00 to avoid longer waits.

Why We Do What We Do



 We believe in the call to serve the hungry found in  Matthew 25: “For I was hungry and you gave me to eat.”

We believe that no one in the McCall area should go hungry, no matter what the reason.

We believe in  being good stewards of all  resources entrusted to us.

We believe in collaboration with community resources and volunteers and depend solely on their support

We believe  that clients deserve to be treated generously, with dignity and with respect.

We believe that  hunger has many causes and adversely affects families, especially children.

We believe in finding  creative ways to help food insecure families.

We believe that hunger does not discriminate and the  poor  are everywhere around us. They are the people on the streets and in the market place:  friends, neighbors, family members, folks we’ve seen at church  and in our back yards, people with homes and those who’ve lost  their homes, the sick needing both food and medication and unable to pay for both. They are the elderly on retirement  and  former professionals.  They’re the homeless and the hopeless. They are young people who have neither focus nor direction. They are people familiar with “the system” and those struggling to navigate it. . They are also the addicted, mentally ill and dysfunctional who need our  help.  They are those on the fringe and mainstream families struggling on  the economic cliff.

We believe that in seeing the face of the poor, we  recognize our common humanity and need to be in   encouraging relationships.




How to Make Donations to the Food Bank

Thank you for all of the food donations which we receive at the food bank.  We appreciate everyone’s help. Right now  as the season changes, the shelves are getting bare.

We’ve received  numerous questions about how to donate to Heartland Hunger & Resource Center, what we need at the food bank and where the donations can be given

Donations can be dropped directly at  HH&RC : 163 Thula St. Bldg 3, #5 on Wednesday 4:30-6:30. There is a drop box outside after hours. Our mailing address is Heartland Hunger & Resource Center, P.O. Box 1929, McCall, Idaho 83638. HH&RC is a 501(c)3 organization. If a tax donation receipt is needed,  please leave contact  information.

Just a few reminders about donations. We can’t take the following:

  • Opened packaging
  • Home cooked, canned products
  • Baby food at this time, except formula
  • Dented or bulging cans
  • Out of date items (older than six months)

Each month we’re specifying a particular food to donate. September is “Healthy Snacks,”  snacks which are low in sugar and fat. Suggestions are  crackers, cheese, yogurt, rice cakes, peanut butter , pretzels, dried fruit, fresh fruit, etc. October will be “Beans”: Chili, Pork & Beans, Canned Beans, Bean Soup.

In addition to the staples , we’re trying to provide  food that is less “quick fix”  and more nutritious for the families. Bulk foods or those in large packaging are often cheaper,  of better quality and go farther.  Starred * items are those we never seem to have enough of.


Unsweetened cereal, like corn flakes, Cheerios, Rice Crispies, puffed


Spaghetti sauce

Dried gravy, sauce, tomato sauce mixes

Rice, regular and brown, rice mixes

Dehydrated potatoes


Canned meats, tuna


Canned beans

*Peanut butter/Jelly

*Canned fruit


Corn meal


Toilet Paper

Baking mixes


For further information, call 208-870-3724

or e-mail:  eagabbert@yahoo.com


Last Wednesday, HH&RC transitioned to a “choice pantry.”  In the future, families who use the food bank will be able to shop directly from the shelves. This is different from how we have  served   families in the past.   In a traditional pantry,  food boxes are made up ahead of time and then given out  to families.  In this type of pantry everyone receives basically the same products. All too often food  is not used because of taste,  preferences, diet or culture.

In a choice pantry, clients take part and select what their families will actually use. We’re still working out all the  details but some of the changes are:

  • Instead of pre-made boxes or bags,  clients come inside the food bank to  choose from the shelves, like in a grocery store.
  • We’ll provide  reusable   cloth bags which should then  be brought each week.
  • Size of family will determine total number of “Choices “
  • Choices will be from a variety of products: canned, protein, starches, grains, fresh & frozen. The intent is to offer   balanced, nutritional  food  choices.
  • There will be  limits on the number of certain items,  like fruit,  meat,  etc., depending on what’s  available.
  • HH&RC volunteers will help each family while they shop, offer support and make  suggestions on  how to use some of the products.

Choice pantries have been shown nationally to make better use of donations, provide clients with food they  will actually use, cost less because less food is wasted and  make  better use of volunteer time. More importantly, it gives food insecure families a sense of being directly involved in what they need for their families. Even though our present space is very small, we’re very excited about making this  transition and helping others in a more positive way.

The choice pantry will begin September 4th at HH&RC, 163 Thula St. The hours are Wednesday from 4:30 – 6:30.


From Weeds to Concrete: Construction Begins

P1000918 P1000922 P1000927

August 31,2013

A lot has happened since ground was broken  just 10 days ago.   Those good looking folks are friends, board members, pastors and representatives from the Valley County and the City of McCall. I’ve been told that a golden snow shovel  helps melt the snow.  Well, not really, but  it was Dan’s idea.

The weed patch is gone and the concrete’s being set. All that space laid out. What a blessing to dream big.