The Stone Soup Project is a collaborative effort between Life’s Kitchen, the City of Boise, Interfaith Sanctuary, and The Idaho Foodbank to provide free meals to community members in need in the Treasure Valley. Each year, trainees at Life’s Kitchen produce more than 42,000 meals for more than 700 homeless adults and children staying at the Interfaith Sanctuary homeless shelter, and an additional 2,800 meals for families using the Pioneer Community Center day shelter during the winter months.
Homelessness is a problem in Ada County, as in other communities across the country. Although it is difficult to obtain an accurate count of the number of homeless at any one time (and homelessness itself is usually a temporary not permanent situation), in 2013 it was estimated that approximately 700 men, women, and children were homeless in Ada County. Boise’s Ten Year Plan to Reduce & Prevent Chronic Homelessness estimates between 2-3 thousand homeless in Ada County throughout the year. While HUD recently calculated a drop in the total number of homeless in Idaho, the people working on the front lines with the homeless in Ada County have seen an increase in the number of adults with children on the streets seeking shelter. Providing safe options for the temporarily homeless, particularly homeless families with children, as they get back on their feet is one of the most important safety nets available in our community.
The Stone Soup Project plays an important role in this safety net. This project provides one hot and healthy meal during weekdays to 165 guests who seek temporary housing at the Interfaith Sanctuary homeless shelter. Interfaith Sanctuary is the only community shelter that provides services to ensure families stay intact and safe. Interfaith also provides significant support services to assist temporary guests in finding employment and permanent housing. Providing at least one meaningful meal each day to adults and their children is crucial to their efforts to transition out of homelessness and into a more stable environment. Providing hot meals at the shelter is also important because it creates an incentive for the homeless to use housing rather than sleep on the streets where it is often dangerous and generates public controversy. The meals provided to adults during the day at the Pioneer Community Center is also a critical component of the services that work to keep families safe. During the winter months, the Pioneer Community Center is open during the day as a warm and safe place for adults with children to stay. Initially, food was offered to the children through the USDA food program, but not to the adults. What the City of Boise found was that adults would feed their children, then take them out into the cold and wet weather to find food for themselves. To keep the adults and children in the shelter, the City of Boise requested that we provide free hot and nutritious meals to the adults. This is the third year we have provided this service.
Thank you to the following supporters who make these meals possible: Idaho Power, Ada County Association of Realtors, Harry Morrison Foundation, All Life Foundation, Consumer Financial Services, and the Lightfoot Foundation.