Group launches year-round effort to stock Food Bank shelves

2013-03-16T06:30:00Z Group launches year-round effort to stock Food Bank shelvesBy Celeste Peterson missoulian.com
March 16, 2013 6:30 am  • 

The Missoula Food Bank has been receiving some extra help this year. The Missoula Interfaith Collaborative , a group comprised of more than 25 faith-based groups, local businesses and service agencies has teamed up with the Missoula Food Bank to provide a steady supply of donations.

Typically the Food Bank receives the bulk of its contributions between October and December, while there is a sharp decline in donations during the summer months. The MIC is facilitating food drives throughout the year, allowing congregations to choose a month during which they can complete a food drive.

Doug Fischer, with the Missoula Food Bank commented, “We are extremely grateful to benefit from the amazing work of the Missoula Interfaith Collaborative. The capacity that the group offers in organizing regular food drives is bringing targeted and seasonal-need donations to Missoula Food Bank. The effort is not only helping to maximize donations of our most-needed items, but also to keep a more steady flow of donated food coming year-round to stock our shelves.“

The food we have received through Missoula Interfaith Collaborative’s efforts is such high-quality. This project is directly leveraging high-need items for people in our community struggling with hunger.

First United Methodist Church , under the direction on Jana Statton, collected food during January. First UMC used two methods of collection: Orders were made through the Orange Street Food Farm and food were brought directly into the church for collection. One Sunday was dedicated to teaching the children and youth about hunger in Missoula and the children were encouraged to bring a food item. Of his family’s experience, Travis Ross said, “The food drive really provided a tangible way our kids could experience giving to someone else. When we give money they don’t understand it, but with the food drive, they could pick out food from the pantry and understand why. They really did enjoy it.” Genevieve Padget-Slote, a mother at First UMC explained, “Having our kids choose a can of food from home and bring it up for Children’s Sermon made it fun and unusual for them, and we still talk about it. It gave us a chance in Sunday School to talk with them about how 1 in 4 kids in Missoula are hungry.” Another member, Laurie Ball said, “It just seemed so easy to do. We got everyone involved, from our littlest children to the oldest members, and everyone gave what they could.”

The Orange Street Food Farm has made the process for many congregations much easier. Church members were able to select items by the case to be ordered through the Orange Street Food Farm at cost, which were then picked up directly by the Food Bank. “It was great that we could work with Orange Street Food Farm to meet the Food Bank needs,” stated Eula Rider. First UMC was able to purchase 69 cases for food items requested by the Food Bank.

St. Francis Xavier chose the month of February for their concerted food drive. Pam Brigham, a member of St. Francis Xavier and liaison with the MIC shared, “As part of our annual Lenten Almsgiving Project at St Francis Xavier, in partnership with the Missoula Interfaith Collaborative, we held a reverse collection to benefit the Missoula Food Bank. Baskets were passed around with slips of paper with various food items written on them. On the following weekend, Jennifer Deeds and her high school youth group pulled a pickup truck in front of the church, and we collected 1118 pounds of food – just on the first weekend!”

The LDS First Ward will be covering the food drive in March for the interfaith collaborative. “We have noticed in our congregation an increase in need over the last few years, and we are excited to work with our neighbors to support all those in need in our community,” observed Bishop William Thomas, Missoula First Ward, Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

Many other congregations have already signed-up to organize a food drive. University Congregation Church (whose idea it was to use the Orange Street Food Farm) and St. Paul’s Lutheran Church will be doing food drives during April; Christ the King Catholic Church has selected May while the LDS 2nd Ward will be collecting food in June. All Soul’s Missoula Church will cover July and First Presbyterian Church will carry out their annual food drive during October. More congregations are needed to completely fill the calendar year.

If your faith-based group would be interested in selecting a month to do a food drive, please contact Celeste Peterson or Casey Dunning at missoulacollaborative@gmail.com.

Celeste Peterson is the food drive coordinator with Missoula Interfaith Collaborative and can be reached at bandcpeterson@msn.com or at missoulacollaborative@gmail.com.

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