Everything from free food and meals to medications and housing is arranged by the Idaho Falls Community Outreach Center. The non-profit organization, and its partners such as FISH (Friends in Service Here) assist the homeless, poor, and less fortunate across Bonneville County.
The center provides a centralized location for an array of community services and applications to benefits, such as public aid. The location enables the agencies involved in administering aid to focus on their missions, which is helping the less fortunate and enhancing quality of life in the local community.
The goal of the Bonneville County Soup Kitchen is to provide a sanctuary where people of all income levels, races, and ages can socialize, gain warmth during the winter, and enjoy a hot, nourishing meal in a friendly, dignified, and respectful atmosphere. It serves tens of thousands of meals and provides boxes of food each year, including at Christmas and Thanksgiving. Some clients are unemployed, low-income residents, the homeless, transients, seniors, children, and the disabled.
In order to get a meal, there are no eligibility requirements, no fees due, no questions are asked, and no religious views are fostered. The Idaho Falls Community Outreach Center Soup Kitchen is blessed to have a team of dedicated, trained volunteers from numerous area churches and charity organizations. They work together to prepare and serve meals to the needy.
Financial support and donations comes from businesses and people in the community, as well as monthly pledges by members. The organization will also receive support from fundraisers held by civic organizations, church groups and federal workers participating in the Combined Federal Campaign. Some of the key partners are Interfaith Community 4th of July, Boy Scouts, and US Postal Service Mail Handlers. There may also be some occasional government funding that is used to keep the kitchen operating.
Friends in Service Here, or FISH of Bonneville County, is a key partner. The assistance they provide is a last resort for those whose needs are not met through the usual channels, such as SNAP or maybe a community action agency.
Among the assistance offered, FISH provides assistance with obtaining free food, personal hygiene products that are not eligible for purchase with food stamps; gasoline for verifiable emergency situations; birth certificates for school or employment registration; clothing to wear to a new job; school supplies; and other basic necessities.
FreeMed is the name of the prescription assistance program. Over the years it has assisted thousands of low income as well as uninsured Eastern Idahoans. There are vouchers and advice is given to help them obtain prescription medication at low or no cost.
In addition to helping clients save money on the prescription drugs themselves, Freemed does not charge for its services and all support is free to the individual. The agencies operating expenses is funded through donations from individuals, local businesses, foundations civic organizations, and churches. Call this program at 528-6337.
Christmas and seasonal items are available in Bonneville. Holiday shoppers are able to browse local charities to select holiday gifts or presents for their children. Everything is donated from the community, so please give back if you can.
EHE - Emergency Housing Exchange was established by Community Outreach Center in an effort to ensure any motel vouchers or funds are paid out correctly and are not abused. Some families were receiving referrals and staying in short term lodging when maybe there were better options for them and their housing situation. EHE can help address this issue.
As part of this, volunteer tracker teams across Bonneville County use smart phones to arrange for one night’s lodging at a local motel for anyone approaching a service provider for short term housing assistance. The client will also receive recommendations and possible solutions for long term help for the cause of their homeless status.
The Idaho Falls Community Outreach Center is located at 301 S. Blvd., Idaho Falls, ID 83401. Call a number above for more information.
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