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City of Good works to feed hungry mouths in Boise. And they need your help to do it | Opinion

As I reflect on the trauma of the pandemic, I am reminded of how our community can come together so quickly and cohesively in times of need. It’s one of the defining things I love about Boise.

We founded the nonprofit City of Good in 2020. As the world sheltered in place, a group of businesspeople came together for an exploratory phone call in March of that year. The motivation was simple: our city needed help and fast. Restaurants were closing and people in isolation were going without food. Could we put restaurants back to work making nutritious meals for those who needed them? Within six weeks, we had City of Good up and running to do just that.

We began with fundraising and used the proceeds to pay restaurant workers to make meals that were delivered to those in need, and then broadened this into creating and delivering weekend fuel kits that provided a weekend’s worth of healthy, delicious food for elementary school kids who otherwise might go without.

Fast forward three years. City of Good has distributed 90,000 nutritious, restaurant-made meals to children, refugees, seniors, those experiencing homelessness, and others lacking access to the food they need. Together we’ve also distributed more than 40,000 pounds of local produce and $33,000 worth of culturally diverse, shelf-stable goods to school pantries and early-learning centers for kids to take home.

As the pandemic receded, City of Good evolved its model to what we like to call a “Circle of Good.” We ditched a competitive model in favor of a collaborative approach to uplift partner organizations and work with others to identify unmet community needs. We seek to eliminate redundancies, reduce waste, and create mutual benefit in a virtuous cycle at every step of the process in our work with others. We collaborate with nonprofits, businesses, and organizations throughout the community – more than 50 local restaurants and farmers, the Boise School District, Boise State University, and nonprofits ranging from the Idaho Food Bank and the Boise Farmer’s Market to the Idaho Botanical Gardens.

Our purpose is to build a sustainable food system and provide “Local Food for All.” We’re working to build relationships and systems that ensure all residents have access to good, healthy food, and that those who provide it are paid a living wage for their labor. To achieve our goal, this holiday giving season we’re launching a new campaign, Build a Better Boise. In the short-term, this will help us provide 6,000 nutritious, restaurant-made meals and 8,600 pounds of locally sourced produce to Boise children, refugees, seniors, and other food-insecure neighbors.

In 2024, with the community’s help, we aim to distribute 25,000 locally sourced meals, 40,000 pounds of local produce, and $25,000 of culturally appropriate, shelf-stable foods.

We’d love to have you join our City of Good team as a volunteer or a financial supporter. You can learn more about City of Good at our Build a Better Boise campaign website.

Russ Stoddard is the founder and CEO of Certified B Corp Oliver Russell, a Boise, Idaho-based social impact agency with clients around the world. He provides clients with brand strategy and consulting services that help social enterprises compete more effectively in the marketplace. He is the author of the Amazon bestseller, “Rise Up – How to Build a Socially Conscious Company,” and a frequent contributor to Sustainable Brands, Conscious Company Media, B The Change, and Real Leaders.