Interfaith Sanctuary, The Idaho Foodbank and Life’s Kitchen provide more than food
By Kelsey Dudley
Boise State University
Interfaith Sanctuary Housing Services shares a unique and extraordinary partnership with The Idaho Foodbank and Life’s Kitchen. The Foodbank provides some of the donated food and Life’s Kitchen students prepare beautiful meals for all who stay at the Sanctuary. By bringing together their signature strengths, the three Boise nonprofits create an environment where people can come for warm meals that fuel their stomachs and their hearts.
Food is necessary for survival, of course, but meals can also be a time for the community to come together. Some of the food for those meals comes from The Idaho Foodbank, which means people who spend their nights at the Sanctuary know when their next meal will be. On any given weekday, the menu includes delicious soup and bread, and on weekends the staff serves the always-popular peanut butter-and-jelly sandwich. The 10 turkeys the Foodbank provided for Thanksgiving, combined with the culinary skills of Life’s Kitchen students, provided many delightful holiday meals.
Like Interfaith Sanctuary, Life’s Kitchen puts youth first. The organization’s mission is to provide at-risk young adults between 16 and 20 years old with training in the food industry to help them gain independence, hope and self-worth.
As the sign over the front door says, Interfaith Sanctuary has been housing homeless families, women and men since 2005. When I first entered the building, two redheaded boys no older than 6 gave me the warmest hugs I’ve ever encountered. Our meeting was brief, and as quick as they came into my life they were back building a house out of blocks with their mother.
While visiting Interfaith Sanctuary, an elderly man named Cricket, with a genuine smile and deep wrinkles that covered his darkened face, offered me a bowl of cream of potato soup that I happily accepted. During our hour-long conversation, Cricket told me he dreams of one day raising a kitten and living in a one-bedroom apartment. Because of a brain tumor, he was to be in the hospital for a few weeks. He explained that the worst part of being sick was that he would have to be away from his friends and the delicious meals at the Sanctuary.
Cricket’s friend, Mac, soon joined our conversation. His 6’3” physical appearance would leave you thinking he’s a tough guy not to be messed with, but the moment he speaks you can hear tenderness in his voice. Mac’s passion is traveling, and it wasn’t long into our conversation until he pulled out an envelope from his jacket that held old photos of his trips. He told me about his hitchhiking adventures that took him all the way to the East Coast, the South and then back to Boise, where he felt most at home.
What makes the Interfaith Sanctuary special is that it not only feeds those who are hungry, it also allows friends like Cricket and Mac to come together for a good, healthy meal. Because of the Foodbank, Life’s Kitchen and Interfaith Sanctuary, there are warm beds and delicious food for families who need it. Unfortunately, there are only so many beds and an overflow of people. Right now it takes about two weeks for someone to get a spot in the Sanctuary.
This holiday season was filled with smiles, laughter, and hugs between friends who were able to gather in the cafeteria and enjoy a holiday meal. For these individuals, a meal on the table is rarely a guarantee, so they greatly appreciate the gracious people who make it happen. The generous donors behind Sanctuary, the Foodbank and Life’s Kitchen provide much more than a hot meal – they provide comfort and well-being to those who need it most.