Dear friends and neighbors:
Hunger and food insecurity are issues that fundamentally impact our community. They are present in every part of Missoula, affecting children in our schools, individuals in our workforce and seniors in our neighborhoods. With one in seven people in Missoula County accessing emergency food assistance, our response as a community to the occurrences of hunger is fundamental as well.
At Missoula Food Bank, our waiting room is full and our aisles are congested. In 2012, 16,943 different individuals received services from our store, in addition to the hundreds accessing our nutrition programs for seniors and children. Between 2009-2012, services from Missoula Food Bank increased by 18.6%, and statistics from 2013 show further growth.
As our community’s generosity helps us to keep stride with the rising need in our neighborhoods, Missoula Food Bank’s physical space continues to create barriers, challenges and additional expenses in providing services. Our local food bank currently leases two off-site warehouse spaces to store adequate food inventory, and also leases the building next to our store location as administrative offices.
Of greater significance is our core value to treat every person with dignity, equity and empathy – and as our neighbors wait with standing room only, elbow to elbow, some with their children, some with mobility issues, some who feel defeated or embarrassed at needing to ask for a little help– it is difficult to continue to provide the dignity that every person in our community deserves.
Included in our 2011 Strategic Plan were goals and objectives to assess the assets and deficits of our current space at 219 S. Third Street W. After much work, professional input, and the experience of delivering service in the constrains of our available space, Missoula Food Bank’s Board of Directors has made the commitment to relocate our local food bank for the benefit of our clients and community.
Missoula Food Bank is only just beginning this incredibly important process that impacts us all. We invite community input. We hope that area citizens will share ideas and thoughts about what, where and how our community’s food bank will be going into the future as we provide not just emergency food assistance, but also work to reduce hunger by confronting the underlying issues that are impacting so many in our neighborhoods.
We look forward to an open dialogue, and truly appreciate and value the community that we serve: the same community that supports us and makes access to food possible to one in seven of our neighbors.
Thank you for working with us toward a hunger-free Missoula. Together, we nourish community.
Merry Hutton, Missoula Food Bank Board President
Cynthia Lotty, Missoula Food Bank Executive Director