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Local business awards Museum of Idaho with $19,000 donation

Business & Money

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IDAHO FALLS – A local business awarded the Museum of Idaho in Idaho Falls a cash donation Tuesday morning.

Idahoan Foods presented the museum with a $19,000 check during a news conference. Museum Executive Director Karen Baker tells EastIdahoNews.com the funds will be used to provide users of Idaho’s Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program $1 admission to tour the museum.

“I have a huge heart for people who are underserved,” Baker says. “You have to remove barriers to enable people to have access to things. Having a $1 per person admission opportunity for people who are … on their way up out of poverty gives them a boost that enriches their lives.”

SNAP, formerly called the food stamps program, is a federal initiative that provides nutritional funding to low-income individuals and families to purchase food at grocery stores. It’s administered by the USDA Food and Nutrition Service through its nationwide network of field offices, according to its website.

The museum offers a variety of educational programs and resources for patrons, partially for students in pre-school through high school. Among its offerings are summer day camps that allow students to learn about space exploration, robots, biology and other topics through hands-on activities. There’s also a little learners program that revolves around STEM education for young children and Discovery Day that allows kids to meet and interact with a scientist on subjects such as water and its impact on the environment, nuclear power or electricity.

Many of these programs have been modified or put on hold due to the COVID-19 pandemic, but the museum is planning to start them up again this fall.

Baker says the pathway out of poverty is through education and the overall goal of this donation is to help generate interest in education for kids who come from needy families.

“If you can get a child excited about something in education, they are more successful at school, the graduation rates go up and the go-on rate either to a career or technical, trade or college, increases,” says Baker. “This partnership (with Idahoan Foods) … has potential impact for future generations.”

As a major food producer and distributor in eastern Idaho, Idahoan Food’s Vice President of Retail Marketing and Business Development Ryan Ellis says the idea of partnering with the museum to help people enrolled in the SNAP program is a cause they wanted to get behind.

He’s hoping this is the beginning of a fruitful relationship that will lead to further collaboration with the museum on various projects.

“Over the course of this next year, thousands of kids will be able to access the museum through our partnership and sponsorship,” Ellis says. “We’re excited to see how this turns out and if there are ways we can change or modify things to make it even more impactful, that’s something we’ll definitely take a look at.”

An exhibit called “Animals Inside Out,” which examines how different animals move and function, is on display until at least Sept. 19. Baker is hoping they can extend it a few months. A new exhibit is slated to open in January, the details of which have not yet been announced.

“Our tickets prices for admission for the caliber of the museum that we have would cost an additional $20 anywhere else,” Baker says. “It’s not enough to keep the museum going. Partners, like Idahoan Foods, and other donors and sponsors make this museum possible for our community.”

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