While local chefs prepare delicious dishes for guests throughout Inlander Restaurant Week, the real MVPs are the event's official partners at Second Harvest, who work to feed the less fortunate in the community every single day.
Second Harvest is kind of the "food bank to the food banks" in North Idaho and Eastern Washington, explains Julie Humphreys, community relations manager for the network. The nonprofit collects food from farms, food drives, grocery stores and manufacturers and then distributes it all to 250 smaller partner agencies, ranging from small, church-basement food banks to large distribution locations.
Second Harvest also delivers fresh produce and meat directly to people who need it through its Mobile Markets that truck food to parking lots, schools, senior centers and more.
The network aims to feed families, children and the elderly, and to teach healthy eating through classes and by offering samples and recipes at the places where people are picking up food.
Children make up about 40 percent of those fed, and people utilize Second Harvest's services for many reasons, from losing a job to having a medical emergency, and facing difficulties in paying mortgages, rent or bills, Humphreys says.
"There's many, many people in our communities who can't afford to put food on their table, let alone go out to dinner," she says. "Many of them are the working poor, not just people trying to live off the system. Often food is the first thing to go."
One local dad named Andrew, who shared his Hunger Story with Second Harvest late last year, says he worked in construction before an injury, and now stays home with three kids while his wife works full-time.
"Society puts a big stigma on reaching out for help, especially as the man of the house. It can make you feel like you failed your family, like you're not good enough or you're not doing enough," he tells Second Harvest. "To be able to go to Second Harvest and have access to fruits and vegetables and bread, the kind of things we wouldn't be able to afford, makes a huge difference for our family. It takes a lot of stress off of us."
Find more hunger stories at 2-harvest.org.
RESTAURANT WEEK HELPS EVERYONE EAT
Last year, Inlander Restaurant Week participants gave enough donations to provide Second Harvest with an impressive 44,708 meals, going a long way toward providing for the 55,000 people the network feeds every single week.
For every $1 donated, Second Harvest can provide five meals for some of the 132,000 people who struggle with hunger in the Inland Northwest. There are multiple ways to donate as you enjoy your Restaurant Week 2018 experience:
• New this year, guests can ask to add a donation to Second Harvest straight on their bill at participating restaurants, listed at inlanderrestaurantweek.com.
• You can also use the power of social media to give: Post the best picture of your restaurant week food on Facebook, Instagram or Twitter with #IRWRaveReviews and make sure your post is public (this is super important!) and Sysco will donate five meals to Second Harvest.