The Missoula Food Bank has a habit of giving things away, but usually it’s groceries and usually they go to hungry families around Missoula.
Now the charity that feeds 1,000 local families a month is helping meet the needs of food banks and their clients statewide. After Rep. Denny Rehberg, R-Mont., invited the Missoula Food Bank to ask for federal money, the nonprofit organization opted to request refrigerated trucks for seven food banks across the state that don’t have adequate vehicles to rescue perishable products from local groceries and restaurants each day. The appropriation has made its way through Congress and awaits endorsement from President Bush.
“Rather than thinking about building a bigger food bank here, which we could probably use but doesn’t solve broader hunger issues, we decided to use the opportunity to make some of the resources we have available to sister organizations across the state,” says Aaron Brock, development director.
Cynthia Lotty, executive director at the Missoula Food Bank, says the refrigerated trucks will go to food banks in Great Falls, Butte, Billings, Kalispell, Bozeman and Helena. There’s also one for Missoula’s Poverello Center, and a small truck to replace a failing vehicle in the Missoula Food Bank’s own fleet, which includes two refrigerated rigs and one standard truck used to rescue more than 300,000 pounds of perishable food each year.
Lotty says she estimates the new trucks could prevent 750 tons of unused food from heading to the dump instead of feeding hungry Montanans. Heather Grenier, program director at the Gallatin Valley Food Bank, and Ann Waickman, executive director of Helena Food Share, both say the trucks will boost their operations.
“The Missoula Food Bank has done a lot of things to raise the bar for other food banks across the state…and I think this is just an example of that,” says Grenier.
Of course, as the Missoula Food Bank kicks off its 22nd annual Holiday Food Drive Dec. 4, staff there hope the adage, “the more you give the more you get,” holds true.