KALISPELL — The Flathead Food Bank is the hub for all northwest Montana food banks and they're getting extra help from the Civil Air Patrol to distribute thousands of meals for people in need.
Food bank executive director Jamie Quinn says they are the center and work to supply all the food banks in Northwest Montana as well as those struggling with food insecurity during the pandemic.
"To turn our space into the county's warehouse and not only is it for Flathead County but we're also warehousing for the entire northwest part of the state," explained Quinn.
She says with the help of donations and the Montana Food Bank Network in six weeks the bank has over 500,000 pounds of food to give out to those in need. That total is almost double the amount of food that the bank sees in one year.
"Normally, we do about 1.5 to 1.7 a year, so over 650 pounds in six weeks is a lot for us," Quinn said, noting that all of the food goes to people around Northwest Montana as well as schools -- and they're not doing it alone.
Lieutenant Daniel Dorsett of the Civil Air Patrol says that their mission with the Flathead Food Bank will last through June and that it's a great feeling knowing they can help.
"We're trying to relieve the burden off of them from this everyday grind. And bring us in so we can take that off of them," he said.
While Dorsett was trained on emergency services and preparedness, he told MTN News that he never expected we would be in a global pandemic in 2020.
All of the food in the food bank goes to people like Kathleen Wright, whose used its services since 2014. She says that during the coronavirus pandemic, the food bank is more than place to just get food.
“They ask you questions about how're you doing. And just making sure that our health is good," she said. "Because you know, they can notice from week to week if you're not the same person, you know, mentally and physically. And they're very alert to that."
Quinn says they are continuing with a drive through for pre-packaged goods with special shopping time for seniors from 9 a.m. to 12 p.m. on Tuesdays and Thursdays and from 1 p.m. until 4 p.m. for everyone else.
The Flathead Food Bank is located at 1203 U.S. Highway 2 in Kalispell.
Quinn told MTN News that the Montana Civil Air Patrol distributed over 10,000 meals on Monday alone -- delivering the most meals out of any other Civil Air Patrol unit in the country.