$108,000 hunger relief funding granted to local community school districts, nonprofits

Tuesday, June 23, 2020

HELENA – Over $100,000 in funding was granted to six organizations to continue operating emergency food services in response to COVID-19.

Gov. Steve Bullock and Montana No Kid Hungry announced the $108,550 in grants June 17.

"We are grateful for the many diverse and innovative food programs that continue to support families throughout every corner of our state," Bullock said. "As Montanans try to balance work, family and personal needs during this time, we can’t forget that nutritious food is the foundation to it all – a basic need that must be prioritized."

Grants were awarded to:

• The Center Pole, Crow Indian Reservation - $49,550

• Sidney Public Schools - $20,000

• Belgrade School District - $5,000

• HELP Committee and Boys & Girls Club of the Hi-Line - $5,000

• Target Range School District - $18,000

• Farm Hands: Nourish the Flathead - $11,000

This round of grant funding adds to the over $150,000 in No Kid Hungry grants already awarded throughout the past several weeks – bringing the total amount of emergency No Kid Hungry funding for Montana to nearly $260,000 since mid-April. 

The Center Pole, a Native nonprofit on the Crow Indian Reservation, plans to use grant funds to expand their existing food bank, food recovery, and community meal programs. Typically, all of these programs provide 100,000 pounds of fresh food to tribal communities on the Crow and Northern Cheyenne reservations each month. The organization expects to double that amount to 200,000 pounds of food with the help of the No Kid Hungry grant. The Center Pole is also using funds to provide bilingual and culturally-relevant COVID-19 information to their communities. The Center Pole believes in building holistic community supports focused on the empowerment of Native Montanans by Native Montanans.

"To our tribes, food is sacred," Peggy Wellknown Buffalo, executive director at Center Pole, said. "During this time of crisis, food is the most important thing to strengthen us physically, emotionally and spiritually. Having enough food keeps us home safe."

Sidney, Belgrade, and Target Range Schools, along with Boys & Girls Club of the Hi-Line, will use grant funds to continue and sustain Grab & Go meal programs for local families into the summer months.

Farm Hands: Nourish the Flathead was awarded funding to assist with the purchase of a vehicle that will transport food for the Columbia Falls Weekend BackPack Program year round, deliver food twice per month to Medicine Bear Shelter in Browning, and serve as a mobile farmers market to supply fresh produce to food access program clients.

"This vehicle is a game changer for our organization," said Farm Hands Executive Director Gretchen Boyer. "It will allow us to source and transport food, local when possible, all over Flathead County. It will also allow us to serve folks in our community who have issues with transportation by working on a mobile pantry and food delivery plan. We plan for this vehicle to serve us well into the future."

A total of $79,550 in funding for The Center Pole, Sidney Public Schools, Belgrade School District and Boys & Girls Club of the Hi-Line comes from private donations to Share Our Strength’s No Kid Hungry campaign. Grants of $24,000 to Target Range School District and Farm Hands: Nourish the Flathead are funded through the Headwaters Foundation in partnership with Montana No Kid Hungry. An additional $5,000 was awarded to Target Range School through Albertsons.

Montana No Kid Hungry is a public-private partnership between Bullock’s office, the Department of Public Health and Human Services and national non-profit Share Our Strength.

No Kid Hungry Emergency Relief Grants are available. No Kid Hungry is offering funding and assistance for schools and community organizations that are finding new, innovative ways to make sure kids have access to the meals they need as schools close due to coronavirus. No Kid Hungry is providing emergency grants to support local efforts like home-delivered meals, grab-and-go meal programs, school and community pantries, backpack programs, and other steps to help reach children and families who lose access to meals.

For more information, email Jenny Martini at Montana No Kid Hungry, jenny.martini@mt.gov.