Missoula County is home to multiple rivers, valleys, mountain ranges, and thriving communities.
Missoula County is also home to a higher than average rate of poverty, with 16.5%, or 18,593 people, of the 111,807 that proudly call Missoula County home living in poverty.
Of the 18,593 Missoula County residents living in poverty, 4,347 of them are children. In addition to the federal food assistance program, SNAP (Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, formerly food stamps), several Missoula Food Bank services have been developed and expanded to address childhood hunger. These programs have been pushed to their limits and yet need continues to grow.
Missoula Food Bank provided 119,113 services through all programs in the past year.
The services could not have been provided without the generous donation of 27,218 hours of service by over 1,574 volunteers. Regardless of the hard work, time, and commitment dedicated to providing services to the Missoula community, the number of food insecure people continues to grow every year. In 2015, Missoula Food Bank provided 73,102 store services to 18,414 unique individuals. By the end of the year, Missoula Food Bank served 1 in 6 Missoulians. A little over one-third of clients are children under the age of 18. Veterans constitute 14% of Missoula Food Bank clients, as do seniors over the age of 60.
The average monthly income of a Missoula Food Bank household is $934 with households spending an average of 54% of income on rent or a mortgage each month. While 42% of Missoula Food Bank households have someone working and 52% of households receive SNAP (Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program) benefits, need in Missoula County is growing. The number of food insecure people in our community does not equal the number of people receiving SNAP benefits, representing a gap in services. Throughout Missoula County, 15,484 people utilize the SNAP benefits, and yet 18,414 people came through the doors of Missoula Food Bank in 2015. A need is unmet.
An emerging theme of Hunger in 2015 is that regardless of program development and expansion, need persists.
Hunger in Missoula cannot be tackled by emergency food resources alone. Ending hunger requires taking a deeper look at the causal issues of hunger and poverty, increasing awareness of food insecurity in our community, and advocating for long-term solutions. Missoula Food Bank envisions a hunger-free Missoula and is actively working towards making this vision a reality through recently expanded advocacy efforts. The newly developed Volunteer Advocate program is an opportunity to organize Missoula County residents in the fight against hunger. Advocates will begin their work by addressing the gap in SNAP benefit coverage through SNAP Application Assistance and increased program outreach. If you are interested in becoming a volunteer advocate and joining Missoula Food Bank in leading the movement to end hunger in our community, please attend an orientation session on Monday, February 22nd at 4 PM at Missoula Food Bank located at 219 S. 3rd Street West or contact Liz Corey directly.
To learn more about the issues Missoulians in poverty face, join us for Food for Thought on Thursday, February 18th at noon at Missoula Public Library. Courtney Buys, AmeriCorps VISTA and Communications & Outreach Coordinator will be discussing Medicaid expansion and healthcare. This will be the second presentation in a series of discussions on finances & eligibility.
Thank you to Jessica Allred, Director of Development & Advocacy at Missoula Food Bank, for sharing this information on Hunger in 2015 during January’s Food for Thought presentation.
This post was brought to you by Liz Corey, AmeriCorps VISTA for Missoula Food Bank
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