MISSOULA — The Missoula Food Bank is calling on the community to rally over the next few days in the hopes of providing a turkey dinner to all those in need this Thanksgiving. According to the volunteers who work there, the need is greater than ever.
Jessica Allred, Director of Development and Advocacy for the Missoula Food Bank says they’re busier than ever before. “1,200 turkeys by this weekend…that’s the goal for this year’s Missoula Food Bank Thanksgiving Food Drive. This is the highest goal the Food Bank have ever set.”
In 2018 Missoula Food Bank donated to 7,969 people in need for the Thanksgiving holiday, which was a 14% jump from the year previous.
“We continue to see more and more people coming through our doors.” says Allred. “We know that some of these families are new to need, that this is the first time that maybe someone has asked for a little bit of help with something with a basic need like food.”
Missoula’s food bank and community center were founded in 1982, created by locals hoping to help people in their community struggling with getting food. Beforehand they dropped off donation’s door to door, but since then the program has grown enough to build a permanent facility.
“There are a number of factors that are leading one of every five Missoulians to the Food Bank,” former participant, and current board member, Ashley Hilliard says. “It’s tough for many to make ends meet…”
She says that knowing the Food Bank was available was a huge comfort, adding that it’s wonderful to have a place to go where you’re not judged, and always made to feel welcome.
The Missoula Food bank has 7,000 monthly services and in 2018 they helped 1 in 6 people with providing food for others in Missoula County. More programs they have target helping children in after school and weekend programs and delivering groceries to elderly neighbors.
“Being able to come to the food bank and utilizing the resources here gives them some of that flex so they can pay an extra bill,” Hillard says. “… they can get caught up on a little bit of debt while feeling that they are going to have nutritious food in their home.”
According to a study done by the Missoula Food Bank in 2018, they say the number one reason people say they come to their store is because of the higher cost of living in Missoula. On average 46% of citizens pay checks go to rent and housing costs.
Allred says there a number of avenues you can take advantage when making donations. “We’re accepting donations here at the food bank…Cherry Creek Radio has their Guerilla Turkey Drive going on so there are a couple of places in town you can drop off turkeys.” Allred anticipates they will connect with 2,00 families providing a traditional holiday meal.
The Missoula Food Bank will host its annual turkey meal distribution this coming Sunday, November 24th. Their headquarters are located on 1720 Wyoming St. For more information on the event you can go to their website.