Providing comfort food
February 02, 2011
New Food Bank manager finds focus and fulfillment helping others
Sharon Froberg, with a little help from Frannie, pictured above, and a host of local volunteers, keep things running smoothly at the Teton Valley Rotary Food Bank serving hundreds of valley families each month. Photo by Jeannette Boner
Every other Wednesday the Teton Valley Rotary Food Bank serves up more than boxes and cans of food, but a continued mission of community support that is for many families a lifeline.
Sharon Froberg is the first employee to step into the role of managing, organizing and ensuring that needs are meet for hundreds of valley residents each month.
Serving more than 75 families before Christmas, the need has not dimmed with the twinkling of the season. In fact, said Sharon, the months before the spring thaw are even more crucial.
“Two weeks ago we had 40 families,” said Sharon. “That was a quieter night than the week before when we had 68 families. I keep getting new families. People are losing jobs.”
Sharon is in the Food Bank on Tuesday, a small home across from Teton Valley Hospital in Driggs, a new location with the space donated by the county-run medical facility. The metal shelves are neatly arranged with can goods, beans, soup, baby food and bags of cereal, all in order, labeled and in boxes.
The mid-winter sun filters through the slatted window blinds filling the rooms with a soft mid-afternoon light as her dog, Frannie, lays in the middle of the room sunning herself quietly. Sharon never stops while she talks about the mission of the program run through St. Francis of the Tetons Episcopal Church and supported by the Teton Valley Rotary Club. She spins around the rooms unpacking and restocking the shelves with donations and shipments from the Idaho Food Bank and the Eastern Idaho Community Action Partnership.
The 19-month veteran volunteer said accepting the role as the first employee of the Food Bank was more than her heart’s desire.
“It was a gift that I can do this, and I do this with heart and soul,” said Sharon. “People really take care of each other here. It just amazes me – the people in this valley are amazing and I hope I never lose that feeling of being amazed. I’m very blessed.”
Moving from the western coast of Oregon, a professional who taught and practiced kinesiology, she came to the valley to be close to her daughter and son-in-law and new granddaughter. The transition was difficult, but a conscience choice as she didn’t want to be a long distance grandmother.
“Leaving was hard, but this work with the Food Bank fills that void. It is meaningful. I’ve always been a fixer. I always had people coming to me with trauma and need. The Food Bank fills that gap for me. It’s like coming home to my heart again.”
And the work suits her. Never one to sit still, the consistent hum of the program keeps Sharon more than busy in her 40-hour a week job.
“I’m double the time I need to put in,” said Sharon who is not paid for the additional hours she works. “I love to do this. I feel like it was meant to be.”
When Sharon isn’t organizing volunteers for Wednesdays, she’s writing grants to support the program and helping new families enroll. There are large red bins at certain locations around the valley that people may fill with food for the Food Bank. And while you can find these bins at Broulim’s, the Victor Valley Market, Dark Horse Books and Teton Valley Hospital, look for her to increase the bins around the valley in the coming weeks.
She has plenty of peanut butter, kidney beans and pork and beans. What she could use is another refrigerator for the fresh food donations that come largely from Idaho Fish and Game as well as other local ranches such as the Dunn Ranch. Sharon said not much stays on the shelves for very long and fruits and vegetables are welcomed donations. Favorites are boxed foods such as Hamburger Helper, Rice-a-Roni, pasta and Mac and Cheese.
The Food Bank also supplies paper products and toiletries. Monetary donations are always needed, as the Food Bank does have to pay a delivery fee from the state organizations that supply food.
Local food drives, such as the ones conducted by the Boy Scouts and the Teton County School District this year were critical to keeping up with demand.
The Food Bank is open every other Wednesday. This month the Food Bank will be open from 6 to 7:30 p.m. Feb. 2 and 16. Sharon stresses families should not try to show up early before the volunteers.
Patrons should park in the See N’ Save parking lot. If any one has any questions or are in need of immediate assistance, she can be reached on a phone donated by Silver Star at 208-399-2020.