Montana Food Banks seeing rise in use with COVID-19 precautions

Posted at 9:08 AM, Mar 21, 2020
and last updated 2020-03-21 11:10:46-04

HELENA — The COVID-19 pandemic has led to agencies taking unprecedented measures in order to curb the spread of the disease.

Bars, restaurants, gyms and many other businesses had to change their services offered or close due to public health orders. People are also being asked to self isolate and limit exposure as much as possible.

During these times, those living in Big Sky Country are being asked to continue to embody Montana generosity and think of those in need.

“Across Montana food pantry staff and volunteers working tirelessly to make sure nobody goes hungry during the coronavirus emergency,” said Montana Attorney General Tim Fox.

“Because the pandemic has started to impact the livelihoods of some Montanans, we anticipate the need for nutrition assistance will be greater than ever,” he added. “From donating goods and money, to volunteering there are many ways that Montanans can contribute.”

Fox hosted a press call Friday to discuss the rise and need in food banks and needs across the state.

“What we are hearing and seeing reports of from a number of food pantries is that there’s been a dramatic increase in assistance needed already,” said Montana Food Bank Network CEO Gayle Carlson.

Food Share in Helena has seen 100 more families receiving food this past week than average while the. Gallatin Valley Food Bank is reporting a 25% increase each day this week.

The Flathead Food Bank saw a similar increase, and also noted they have not been receiving weekly or daily donations from retailers like normal due to stores being bought out of food.

“A lot of the reports that we’re getting back is that individuals that typically do access the pantry on a regular basis and of course they’re worried about how long their pantry is going to be able to remain open and how long they’re going to have resources available to them. So, they’re making sure they’re getting in as soon as possible,” explained Carlson.

The food banks that MTN News talked with said the best way to help is to make a monetary donation directly to the organizations. Meanwhile, if people want to volunteer or donate food, they should contact their local pantry directly to see how they can help.

The Montana Food Bank Network has also set up a response to COVID-19. More information can be found here.