Food assistance need growing in Montana as pandemic continues

Posted at 2:01 PM, Mar 24, 2021

BOZEMAN — A lot has changed as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, including how children and families access food in Montana.

“Where their family hasn’t been able to, for example, bring enough resources to pay for the utility bills or to get that rent covered for the month or to bring enough food for everybody, and families tend to pinch mostly on food,” said Greater Gallatin United Way president and CEO Danica Jamison.

And it’s not only the amount of food. "They might still be able to eat, but the quality of what they’re eating might have gone down,” Jamison said.

One of the biggest food challenges this nonprofit president has seen recently is when children don’t have access to school.

“We just learned right before the Christmas holidays that there were about 34 families who were going to be struggling during the Christmas break to have food, and then again just last week with spring break to have the food that they needed.”

Access to food isn’t a new problem in society, but it became a new reality for a lot more families in this community.

“There have been many families for many years struggling with food needs as well other financial needs for a long time, but when the pandemic hit last year we saw a surge in need,” Jamison said.

But there are many resources that residents are not only encouraged to donate to but to also utilize themselves.

“We encourage people to reach out. I don’t know a single person who hasn’t had a hard time at some point in their life and needed to reach out for help, so part of the message that I’d like to share is that it’s really important to ask, and there are people who want to help and it’s our job as a community to be there for each other,” explained Jamison.

Even in schools, the way food is given to students has changed in a lot of instances.

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