It’s harvest season and local food banks want surplus items to help families in need

BLACKFOOT— Nearly 200 volunteers showed up at Blackfoot Saturday morning to pick, shell, blanch and package corn for The Community Dinner Table.

The Community Dinner Table is a multi-faith organization that offers weekly dinners in Bingham County for those in need of a meal or fellowship.

Lee Hammett and Randy Shiosaii have served on the board of The Community Dinner Table and have been running the corn shelling service event for 12 years.

“Richard Johnson donates corn. He’s a farmer. He tells me when the corn will be ready, then I set the date,” Shiosaai said. “It’s the best corn in the western United States. He cultivates this especially for us. He keeps it sweet because he knows the people we work with love him.

Community members gather before sunrise to pick and shell maize. He is then transferred to the Jason Lee Methodist Church, where other volunteers are waiting to process and freeze him.

“One year we actually did 7,000 cobs of corn, but I think Richard is trying to keep it at 5,000. That’s a lot of corn,” Hammett said.

In the end, the event gives about 150 gallons to freeze.

Bagging corn at The Community Dinner Table in Blackfoot. | Morgan Mathis,

As summer draws to a close and cooler weather begins to creep into eastern Idaho, farmers and gardeners are harvesting fresh, locally grown produce.

Year after year, people in our area leave zucchini, cucumbers, tomatoes and other produce on the sidewalk for anyone who might use them. They bring it to church and work, trying to find a home for the product they know they won’t be able to use before it spoils.

According to the Idaho Food Bank, one in 11 eastern Idahoans suffers from food insecurity. Gardeners can play a key role in providing fresh produce to those struggling to feed their families.

Hammett says their organization and others like theirs could use any locally grown product.

“If it’s grown in the ground, if there’s dirt on it, we take it,” he explains.

Donations are used at the Community Pantry, which is also operated by The Community Dinner Table.

The Eastern Idaho Community Action Partnership’s Rexburg Outreach Food Pantry is also seeking donations.

“We’ll accept whatever product people are willing to bring in as long as it’s not rotten,” Bella Atriano of the Outreach Center told

The Community Food Basket in Idaho Falls and The Giving Cupboard in Rigby also accept donations to feed the community.

“We would accept any type of product. We prefer things that don’t need to be refrigerated right away simply because we have limited fridge space,” said Kori Ellis, vice president of Giving Cupboard.

If you would like to donate your surplus harvest, the Idaho Food Bank and Ample Harvest maintain information on food banks that accept locally grown produce.

If you’re looking for a hot meal in Bingham County, you can find one at The Community Dinner Table every Tuesday night from early October through late March.

Morgan Mathis | EastIdahoNews.ccom

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