A former meetinghouse of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints at 351 W. 14th Street in Idaho Falls was recently donated to the Idaho Falls Community Food Cart. (Jay Hildebrandt)
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IDAHO FALLS — A generous donation from The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints will provide a larger venue for a local food bank to serve customers in eastern Idaho.
A former Latter-day Saint meeting place at 351 W. 14th Street in Idaho Falls has been donated to the Idaho Falls Community Food Cart, meaning the food cart will move its distribution center to the 17,389-foot building squares.
Ariel Jackson, executive director of the food cart, tells EastIdahoNews.com the new building is more than 13 times the size of its current location at 245 N. Placer Avenue. The nonprofit plans to move into the space within the next six to nine months following a renovation project.
“The plan is to receive the keys in December after removing the steeple, signage and building art,” Jackson said. “The building doesn’t have a dock for us to drop off food, so we need a dock in the back and some shelving. We also didn’t want to uproot our families in the middle of the holidays. This moving in the snow is no fun.”
Half of the building will be used as a food bank distribution center and the other half will be used for community events, such as self-sufficiency classes and other charitable purposes.
The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints has contributed to the food basket over the years and it is the organization’s largest donation to date.
It comes at a time when the number of people benefiting from the food basket continues to rise. It distributed the equivalent of 1,738,105 meals last year, serving 1,043 families each month.
“The need continues to grow at an unprecedented rate, testing our ability to safely distribute food to those who need it most,” Jackson said in a press release.
The larger building will not only improve the efficiency of food distribution, but also improve customer safety in a welcoming indoor location.
“We had to call an ambulance three times this summer because customers had to stand in the sun and now we are hitting the winter months. This gives us the opportunity to get our customers out of the weather…to wait in a warm or cool building (depending on the time of year),” Jackson says. “Our biggest goal was to get a bigger space and shelter our guests from the elements, so that’s going to be awesome. “
The church building dates from 1950 and has not been used as a meeting place for at least a decade. A press release from the church says it recently operated as an administrative office for full-time missionaries.
The church wanted to sell or donate it and contacted the Regional Council for Christian Ministry, the food basket’s umbrella organization, to see if they were interested in the space.
“They liked what we were doing, realizing that we were meeting the needs of the community and we just didn’t have (adequate) space,” Jackson says.
Elder Fernando R. Castro, a member of one of the church’s Quorum of Seventy overseeing members in this area, is thrilled to provide a much larger space for the food bank’s mission.
“We are grateful to The Food Basket for its many years of dedicated service helping food insecure individuals and families and for the opportunity to repurpose this building in such a meaningful way,” Castro said in a press release. .
Jackson appreciates the “remarkable gesture” of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.
The current food cart building on Placer Avenue is owned by the First Presbyterian Church. Jackson is grateful for his support over the years. Once the move is complete, Jackson says it will be used for other nonprofit entities.
Its warehouse located at 1895, boulevard Nord will remain in operation.