BLACKFOOT — From an undrafted free agent to an impact tight end with the NFL’s New Orleans Saints, former Blackfoot Bronco Josh Hill plays hungry on the gridiron.
Off the field, the Blackfoot native is just as impactful.
Hill did his part to help hungry families throughout Southeast Idaho on Monday by hosting an autograph signing food drive event for the Community Dinner Table food bank in Blackfoot.
“A lot of professional athletes create organizations or charities to reach out into their civic communities and we are given a lot,” Hill said. “It’s important that we give back to the communities we grew up in any way we can.”
Hosted on the same football field that Hill played on when the Blackfoot Broncos won the 4A state football championship in 2007, the event accumulated approximately 1,000 pounds of food items, according to Jackie Young, board president of the Community Dinner Table.
Hill told the Journal on Wednesday that he plans to match the donation and is expected to deliver the food to the Community Dinner Table pantry on Friday.
“My wife and I were just talking about ways to give back and how we could get involved in the community during the short time we were in town,” Hill said. “We decided it would be great to meet some of the kids in the community while also helping out the food bank.”
A graduate of Idaho State University, Hill grew up in Blackfoot. As a New Orleans Saint, he has caught more than 60 career passes and scored 10 touchdowns in five seasons.
According to Young, Jane Hill, who is Hill’s mother, works for First American Title Company in Blackfoot and is very familiar with the Community Dinner Table. Young said that Jane and her colleagues supplied food bank clients with pet food for their animals once a month for nearly a year.
“Josh’s mom called me and told me how excited they were to do this event,” Young said. “Josh was so gracious and the whole experience was just fantastic. It’s inspiring to see a fellow community member reach out to support us.”
The Community Dinner Table is a non-profit organization comprised of faith groups and friends working together to reduce hunger throughout Bingham County. The food bank’s more encompassing mission includes reducing hunger in Bingham County by providing wholesome food to those in need, as well as developing and implementing solutions to the underlying causes of hunger through collaboration, education and advocacy.
Further, the Community Dinner Table focuses on creating an environment for older residents in need of social interaction by making safe and wholesome dinner environments available. It also promotes creative and productive teamwork between all faith groups in the county to increase the availability of resources and to build stronger and more meaningful interfaith relationships.
“We are a 100 percent non-profit organization that receives no federal or local government funding,” Young said. “We give out about 200 to 250 food boxes a week, which is about 300,000 pounds of food annually. So these type of donation events are critical to our success.”
A Boy Scouts of America troop is expected to help unload the donated food from Hill on Friday, Young added.
Though Hill has called New Orleans home for the last five years, Blackfoot will always be the place his roots are seeded, he said. And with events like the food drive on Monday, Hill said it’s a rewarding experience to hear youth members from the community he grew up in explain how much of a role model he is in their lives.
“Blackfoot will always be my home,” Hill said. “There were a few kids who said they hope to achieve the same things that I have and that I showed them it was possible to make it from a small town. That’s the stuff that really sticks with me.”