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Idaho National Guard helps in a time of need during the COVID-19 pandemic

An Airman wearing a mask and gloves, places a plastic container with red strawberries onto a shelf with other fruits.

Idaho National Guard Airmen are helping at the St. Vincent de Paul Food Pantry in a time of need. Food is donated to pantries like St. Vincent de Paul from the food bank and several local companies as part of the Feed America program. Staff Sgt. Johnathon Miles from the 124th Fighter Wing and the other Airmen helped by unloading food from trucks, sorting the food into carts and helping load the donated food into people's cars that came by for their grocery needs on April 3, 2020. The Idaho National Guard is helping at the pick-up station at St. Vincent de Paul because the need for more manpower increased as more people were coming for food. The call for the Idaho National Guard came through the Idaho Office of Emergency Management from the Idaho Foodbank to help with a shortage of support during the hardship of COVID-19. Currently they are handing out food to anyone that shows up during the pantry's pick-up hours. (U.S. Air National Guard photo by Master Sgt. Becky Vanshur)

An Air Force Airman wearing a mask and gloves, hands a bag of pears to a female with curly hair who is wearing a purple long sleeve shirt.

Idaho National Guard Airmen are helping at the St. Vincent de Paul Food Pantry in a time of need. Food is donated to pantries like St. Vincent de Paul from the food bank and several local companies as part of the Feed America program. Staff Sgt. Jordan Robertson from the 124th Fighter Wing and the other Airmen helped by unloading food from trucks, sorting the food into carts and helping load the donated food into people's cars that came by for their grocery needs on April 3, 2020. The Idaho National Guard is helping at the pick-up station at St. Vincent de Paul because the need for more manpower increased as more people were coming for food. The call for the Idaho National Guard came through the Idaho Office of Emergency Management from the Idaho Foodbank to help with a shortage of support during the hardship of COVID-19. Currently they are handing out food to anyone that shows up during the pantry's pick-up hours. (U.S. Air National Guard photo by Master Sgt. Becky Vanshur)

An Airman wearing a white mask and black gloves, listen and prepares to write down information onto a clip board from a man wearing glasses and red and black flannel shirt inside his chevy vehicle.

Idaho National Guard Airmen are helping at the St. Vincent de Paul Food Pantry in a time of need. Food is donated to pantries like St. Vincent de Paul from the food bank and several local companies as part of the Feed America program. Master Sgt. Gary Poncia from the 124th Fighter Wing and the other Airmen helped by unloading food from trucks, sorting the food into carts and helping load the donated food into people's cars that came by for their grocery needs on April 3, 2020. The Idaho National Guard is helping at the pick-up station at St. Vincent de Paul because the need for more manpower increased as more people were coming for food. The call for the Idaho National Guard came through the Idaho Office of Emergency Management from the Idaho Foodbank to help with a shortage of support during the hardship of COVID-19. Currently they are handing out food to anyone that shows up during the pantry's pick-up hours. (U.S. Air National Guard photo by Master Sgt. Becky Vanshur)

An Airman wearing a yellow paisley mask and gloves, pushes a shopping cart loaded with various groceries inside a food pantry.

Idaho National Guard Airmen are helping at the St. Vincent de Paul Food Pantry in a time of need. Food is donated to pantries like St. Vincent de Paul from the Idaho Foodbank and several local companies as part of the Feed America program. Tech. Sgt. Mario Pile from the 124th Fighter Wing and the other Airmen helped by unloading food from trucks, sorting the food into carts and helping load the donated food into people's cars that came by for their grocery needs on April 3, 2020. The Idaho National Guard is helping at the pick-up station at St. Vincent de Paul because the need for more manpower increased as more people were coming for food. The call for the Idaho National Guard came through the Idaho Office of Emergency Management from the Idaho Foodbank to help with a shortage of support during the hardship of COVID-19. Currently they are handing out food to anyone that shows up during the pantry's pick-up hours. (U.S. Air National Guard photo by Master Sgt. Becky Vanshur)

Major General Michael Garshak, a white male with gray hair wearing US Army uniform, holds a bottle of water as he talks Airman and Soldiers from the Idaho National Guard, inside a food pantry.

Citizen-Soldiers from the Idaho National Guard assisted employees and volunteers at the Idaho Foodbank with loading and unloading trucks, boxing and sorting donated food and making deliveries to several of its 400 community-based partners throughout the state on April 2, 2020. Idaho Army National Guard Soldiers are assisting from distribution centers in Boise, Lewiston and Pocatello. Maj. Gen. Michael Garshak, commander, Idaho National Guard, visited the the Soldiers to thank them for helping. “We have more than 4,000 members in the Idaho National Guard,” said Garshak. “We respond when the state, county or city organizations' capacities are overwhelmed or stretched to the limit and they ask us to come in and help.” (U.S. Air National Guard photo by Master Sgt. Becky Vanshur)

Karen Vauk the director of the Idaho Foodbank, a white female with dirty blonde hair and glasses, wearing a red shirt and black blazer jacket, gestures with her hands as she talks with Airmen and Soldiers from the Idaho National Guard inside a food pantry.

Citizen-Soldiers from the Idaho National Guard assisted employees and volunteers at the Idaho Foodbank with loading and unloading trucks, boxing and sorting donated food and making deliveries to several of its 400 community-based partners throughout the state on April 2, 2020. Idaho Army National Guard Soldiers are assisting from distribution centers in Boise, Lewiston and Pocatello. “We are so delighted to have this support from the Idaho National Guard,” said Karen Vauk, president and CEO of the Idaho Foodbank. “We are experiencing some very unusual times for the Idaho Foodbank and we have seen a significant increase of need in our food support. That means our operations are stretched thin. We have to get more food in and more food out to support our communities across the state. We needed more manpower, so we called upon the National Guard.” (U.S. Air National Guard photo by Master Sgt. Becky Vanshur)

BOISE, Idaho --

More than 40 Idaho National Guard Soldiers and Airmen have been activated to assist food bank workers with keeping up with an increased amount of demand as Idahoans starts to feel the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic.

“We are so delighted to have this support from the Idaho National Guard,” said Karen Vauk, the Idaho Foodbank’s CEO and president. “We have to get more food in and more food out to support our communities across the state. We needed more manpower, so we called upon the National Guard.”

Citizen-Soldiers and Airmen were placed on state active duty orders in late March and assigned to work at the Idaho Foodbank’s Boise, Lewiston and Pocatello locations.

“We have more than 4,000 members in the Idaho National Guard,” said Maj. Gen. Michael Garshak, commander, Idaho National Guard. “We respond when the state, county or city organizations’ capacities are overwhelmed or stretched to the limit and they ask us to come in and help.”

Vauk requested additional assistance through the Idaho Office of Emergency Management after she noticed a significant increase of need in the food supply throughout Idaho, which was causing her operations to be spread thin.

Citizen-Soldiers and Airmen are also assisting at Boise’s St. Vincent de Paul Food Pantry by handing out donated groceries to those in need. The Idaho Foodbank donates food to pantries like St. Vincent de Paul as part of the Feeding America program.

“Before COVID-19, what we would see here at the pantry would be an average of maybe 1,100 families per month,” said Ralph May, executive director of St. Vincent de Paul. “During this crisis we are seeing close to 2,300 families per month for now. We are seeing a little more than double and some days we are seeing three times the amount of families we would normally see in a day.”

Citizen-Soldiers and Airmen are assisting employees and volunteers with loading and unloading trucks, boxing and sorting donated food, helping load food into people’s cars and making deliveries to several of its 400 community-based partners throughout the state.

“Missions like this give people another reason to want to join the National Guard,” said Garshak. “Not only are they trained and prepared to serve our nation at times of war, but they are also ready and available to come to the aid of local communities and citizens in times of need.”