Montana Food Bank Update #1 | Glendive Broadcasting

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Many changes have arisen in our world during the past week. Our network is experiencing on-going and constantly shifting uncertainties as well as witnessing extraordinary community support.

Montana Food Bank Network is committed to ensuring everyone in Montana, no matter what community they live in, has access to the food they need to thrive. We are working with our Network partners across the state to support the changes being implementing in their distribution numbers, methods, hours, etc to meet the increasing demand during the effects of the COVID-19 crisis.

We will work to keep the public notified via this page as new information is received. Additionally, an e-newsletter will be sent to subscribers of our “Hunger Updates” e-newsletter.   Sign up to receive our e-newsletter at the bottom of our homepage at MFBN.org.

We hope this will provide a resource for those looking for emergency food assistance with useful information for their local community. In addition, we hope anyone wishing to get involved or support their community can connect with organizations in need of volunteers or supplies and offer their support.

Changes in services

Additional services

SNAP: Offices of Public Assistance are closed to the public until further notice as they respond to recommendations on public safety. DPHHS we will continue to provide essential services online through apply.mt.gov or by telephone through the Public Assistance Help Line at 1-888-706-1535. DPHHS is shifting additional staff to serve clients through the Public Assistance Helpline during this time.In addition, individuals are welcome to contact MFBN’s SNAP Hotline for application assistance by phone or to pre-screen for SNAP eligibility. Contact our SNAP Outreach Coordinator at (406) 239-6475.

WIC: WIC offices are closed to the public until further notice. Services will be available remotely and benefits will continue to be issued for anyone currently on the program. New and existing clients may reach out their local WIC clinic (www.signupwic.com) or call the state office to inquire about WIC benefits. The state office may be reached at (800) 433-4298 or montanawicprogram@mt.gov. WIC Benefits issued on EBT cards will continue to be used as usual. Anyone experiencing difficulty with getting formula at their local store is encouraged to contact the state office.

Child Nutrition: Many schools across Montana are offering free meals to children during unanticipated school closures. Meals are available to all children and teens, age 18 and under. A list of meal programs is available here, and is continually being updated. Schools have significant flexibility in how the meals are delivered so please contact your local school to find out exactly how and where to access meals. Many schools are also posting these details on their websites and social media pages.

Senior Nutrition: Most congregate meal programs are closed in response to current health and safety recommendations, however many of these congregate meal programs are offering take out meals and home delivered meals for seniors.  For more information on meals and resources for seniors,contact your local Area Agency on Aging at (800) 551-3191.

Challenges the Network is facing

  • The Network has seen a significant decline in Grocery Rescue as the panic buying in grocery stores continue. In 2019, 9.4 million pounds of food were donated through our Grocery Rescue Program to our network partners. Grocery Rescue donations include fresh produce, meat, dairy, eggs and many other expensive hard to access foods. Because of the decline in Grocery Rescue, network partners are now turning to Montana Food Bank Network to provide more of these items than we have in the past.  Montana Food Bank Network is working with local and national partners to acquire additional foods to supplement the loss of Grocery Rescue product for the duration.
  • Senior centers have closed which means congregate meal sites that provide many seniors with consistent access to hot, nutritious meals, have ceased. Meal delivery programs are still going for now, but many have limited outreach due to lack of volunteers. Many partners have adjusted their services to allow for some home deliveries to seniors. However, we expect to see a significant increase of use in service at Network food pantries for seniors.
  • Schools are closed. This lays a significant unexpected burden on families. Access to free and reduced-price breakfast and lunches for all children under the age of 18 has transitioned to grab-n-go meals as well as deliveries along many bus routes. This solution is great as long as it continues. However, many families are facing additional childcare costs and/or possible job loss due to increased layoffs. Our Network has already seen significant increases in the number of new client visits in the past week. As business and school closures continue, we expect this number to rise significantly.
  • MFBN is focused on keeping communications open with partners throughout the state to address their daily needs.  Our shopping list opened last week and orders the first day were significant.  We are working with our vendors to order as quickly as possible, but in many cases there is a 2-3 week delivery delay.
  • Our Network food pantries are reporting 20-30% increase in visits every day last week.

Get involved

We are working to gather specific needs in communities around state. We will list them on this page.

In the meantime, many of our partners are experiencing shifts and changes in their donation and/or volunteer needs. We recommend checking your local pantry’s Facebook page before visiting in person. Many are listing specifics there.

All pantries that are working to keep their doors open will do so at a significant increased expense. Monetary donations help increase the buying power of the Network and allows us to increase the efficiency of our food distribution model. You can make a donation directly to Montana Food Bank Network here >>


 

ADDRESSING COMMUNITY NEEDS TOGETHER: Survey is open for Network members or other community organizations to submit additional “pop-up” resources your organization is providing in your area or needs your organization has that the public can fill. SUBMIT NOW >>


 

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