By Kaylene Bishop
The day started with snow and ended with Sunshine. Sunshine Evetts, that is, who manages the Give Hope Lutheran Church Food Pantry in Eagle, Idaho. Sunshine’s name reflects her personality: warm, bright, and a welcome presence on a wintry day. We met at the cozy Trailside Bakery Cafe Boise off State Street. Having arrived at different times, we coincidentally both ordered an oat milk chai -- the first of several similarities.
Sunshine loves her job. Her whole life, she has wanted to help people and animals. Prior to her employment with the food pantry she worked in multiple animal rescue efforts. Her journey at Give Hope Food Pantry began with volunteer work during the pandemic and she has been managing it since June of ’22 after taking over for her mother, Debra Dean, who had been managing it for 8 years. There is no doubt in my mind that the Give Hope Food Pantry is blessed to have Sunshine at the helm.
Give Hope Food Pantry has been operating for 20 years. Supported mainly by a few local non-profits and tithe contributions from folks at Hope Lutheran Church, where Sunshine has been a member for 12 years, the goal of this organization is to make sure no one is hungry. Thanks in large part to the labor of love from Sunshine and 18 volunteers, 7,000 people have benefited this year with November being their busiest month to date, serving over 800 people within 150 local households. The vast majority of recipients are families. In order to make sure there’s enough to go around, Give Hope Food Pantry requests that people come once a month. Monday morning is the busiest time. When recipients arrive, they are asked to provide basic details like their name, phone number, number of seniors, adults, and kids, and if anyone has allergies. They used to allow folks to shop inside but in order to protect their senior volunteers during COVID's early years, they instituted a drive-thru style, which is still in effect.
The growing recipient numbers at Give Hope Food Pantry contradict Eagle’s opulent reputation, but at the same time, this is a city that has seen property taxes quadruple in the past three years. Well aware of the stereotype that haunts the city in which she works and lives, Sunshine drops the mic with: “You never know what’s going on with them. Just because they’re driving a Lexus doesn’t mean they’re not just about to lose their house.” For the week of Christmas this year, she plans to give out oranges as “a special, sunny treat in the middle of winter.” Hopefully Rolling Tomato will be lucky enough to help with this endeavor!
Thanks to my candid conversation with Sunshine, I got some facts straight and learned some new ones. People from all socioeconomic situations live in Eagle, not just the millionaires. Chickens like cooked pasta, probably because it feels like worms. And lastly, her favorite food is also one of mine: a “fat veggie sandwich”.
Sunshine and her hydrologist husband of 23 years, Dave, live on some acreage out in rural Eagle. They love the outdoors and share space with dogs, cats, chickens, and a 21-year-old box turtle. Besides leading the team at the food pantry, Sunshine is also a mom, an Alaska native, a vegetarian of 30+ years, and a talented ceramic artist! Using the same wheel and kiln from her ceramics student days at the University of Alaska – Fairbanks, she makes mugs, dishes, earrings, and “potheads” (pots with heads on them). Needing to feed the black hole that is my earring addiction, I gladly forked over some cash and am now the proud owner of some of her wares. You can find her ceramic art online (at the link below in the comments) or look for her “free plants for potheads” sign at a local craft market.