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Missoula Food Bank suspends food donations, volunteer assistance

Missoula Food Bank Holiday Drive
Posted at 11:24 AM, Mar 30, 2020
and last updated 2020-03-30 13:24:15-04

MISSOULA — The Missoula Food Bank adjusted several programs over the weekend, putting an end to volunteer shifts while suspending its acceptance of donated food.

The food bank cited both measures as a health precaution during the COVID-19 pandemic.

“In response to the governor’s stay-at-home directive, we are temporarily suspending all volunteer shifts inside our building,” the organization announced on its Facebook page. “Our distribution will continue with staff support only. We will continue to utilize volunteers for our senior home delivery program.”

Socially minded nonprofits across Missoula have made several program changes over the past week, including the Poverello Center, which has limited outside visitation and closed its food pantry.

An emergency assistance fund launched by the United Way of Missoula County also has been established to provide assistance to laid-off service workers and vital nonprofits. Donations to the fund reached $135,000 within days and the first round of checks totaling $100,000 were to be issued over the weekend to those who met the fund’s criteria.

“We know our community and its most vulnerable citizens face long-term needs,” said Susan Hay Patrick, CEO of the local United Way. “We know this initial $100,000 will help some, but far from all service and gig-economy workers in need.”

Making its own adjustments, the Missoula Food Bank has suspended the acceptance of food donations, calling it a precautionary measure. It’s asking the public to make a financial contribution instead.

“While we are endlessly grateful for the number of people who are willing to help in this time of unprecedented need, we are also committed to doing our part in preventing community spread, and therefore are making hard choices on how to proceed,” the organization said.