The Montana Food Bank Network has purchased a new refrigerated mobile food pantry truck, allowing it to distribute emergency food assistance to some of the more rural areas of the state.
Based in Missoula, the Montana Food Bank Network is Montana’s only statewide food bank, distributing nearly 8 million pounds of food in 2013. 1 in 7 Montanans report struggling to afford food on a daily basis.
CEO Gayle Gifford says the new truck will allow them to serve 28 counties that don’t currently have emergency food services.
The Food Bank Network bought the Mobile Food Pantry, nicknamed the Chuck Wagon, because of $90,000 dollar donation from Northwest Farm Credit Services and Co Bank.
Gifford says the the pantry truck will primarily focus on counties within 4 to 5-hours of Missoula.
Food will be distributed in 50 pound, pre-packed emergency food boxes. In some counties, officials from other social services will also be available to give out information about disability benefits, or provide applications for the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, commonly known as SNAP.
This isn’t the first time the Montana Food Bank Network has used a mobile pantry truck to provide emergency food services. Gifford says previous program wasn’t as efficient as it could have been.
Gifford says the Network now works with partner agencies already in the area, such as Northwest Farm Credit Services, to identify how many people are in need before the truck arrives.
...they have to go into other county areas to access, that they’re usually not accessing at all. The other issue is they’re considered to be food deserts. So in other words, they have 50 to 60 miles to drive to the nearest grocery store. So access to food in general and access especially to emergency services are very few and far between. So the mobile food pantry is going to allow us to take that to their community. When we find a county that does not have a high need, does not have any services available, we can arrange with a partner there - whether it be a church or a business or other non-profits - to bring the pantry to them.