WHITEFISH — A free grocery store for those less fortunate in the Flathead will be officially up and running at the North Valley Food Bank in Whitefish starting Wednesday.
“People can come in and choose the food they need and want,” North Valley Food Bank Executive Director Sophie Albert told MTN News.
It's an idea years in the making that will come to fruition when the North Valley Food Bank officially opens its free grocery store.
The shopping model allows customers to come into the food bank and hand-select items without eligibility requirements.
“You come in, you fill out your little sheet and you walk around like you’re in the grocery store and pick the items you need,” said Albert.
Albert noted the free grocery store is made possible thanks to an expansion project years in the making.
She said the need for food assistance has grown immensely in Flathead County during the COVID-19 pandemic.
“So, we have seen our numbers triple over the last two years and it’s really staying at that level, we see anywhere between 300 and 500 people a week,” said Albert.
She said the free grocery store will be open every Wednesday from 12 p.m. to 6 p.m. with drive-thru services still offered on Thursdays from 12 p.m. to 4:30 p.m.
“Really believe that this is the way of food assistance because it’s such a more dignified approach for people and it’s just so much more respectful for people to come in and choose what they want." - North Valley Food Bank Executive Director Sophie Albert