More food support grants announced

Tuesday, August 4, 2020

HELENA – A total of $212,500 in additional grant funds were awarded to food programs across the state, Gov. Steve Bullock and First Lady Lisa Bullock announced July 30.

The grants were awarded to the following organizations for continued operation of food support programs in the wake of COVID-19:

• Dutton Brady School – $5,000

• Boys & Girls Club of the Flathead – $60,000

• Polson School District – $25,000

• Lewistown Public Schools – $10,000

• Hardin Public Schools – $28,000

• Chippewa Cree Tribe, Rocky Boy Reservation – $10,000

• Plentywood Public Schools – $7,000

• St. Regis School District – $40,000

• Libby School District – $20,000

• St. Labre Public Schools – $7,500

This round of grant funding brings the total amount of No Kid Hungry funding for Montana to $555,150 since the onset of the pandemic. This total includes both pandemic emergency relief grants as well as Summer Meal funding. 

"Communities have truly stepped up to take care of each other over the past several months," Gov. Bullock said. "Schools, businesses and community organizations are going above and beyond to meet needs during a time of uncertainty, highlighting our resiliency and culture of caring as a state."

"Food security is critical for the physical and emotional well-being of Montana’s students,” said First Lady Lisa Bullock. "We are grateful to Montana No Kid Hungry and our schools and community leaders for partnering with us to take that weight off of parents’ shoulders, while ensuring our students have their nutritional needs met."

Director for Montana No Kid Hungry Lisa Lee added, "We’re noticing a shift in how communities are responding to the food security needs as many organizations are being more creative and planning long-term solutions now. Schools are being hit hard through this pandemic. They have had to make tough budgetary decisions and it’s important to support their food and nutrition operations through our No Kid Hungry grants in a holistic way so they can meet the needs of their students."

Hardin Public Schools will use grant funds to help with the transportation costs of their meal delivery program. The school district is delivering meals using three school bus routes, serving 300-500 breakfasts and lunches each day to their community as well as the outlying areas of St. Xavier, Fort Smith, Busby and Muddy Cluster.

"Access to food in southeast Montana is challenging," explained Hardin Director of School Nutrition, Patrice O’Loughlin. "The school buses we are using to deliver meals drive through each small community honking the horn like an ice cream truck and the kids come running to pick up food. Recently a young child came to the curbside service and handed us a handmade card in the shape of a heart. Inside the card they wrote 'thank you for feeding us' and taped three pennies. It’s moments like these that make our work so meaningful and reassure us that we are helping families to meet one of their most basic needs."

Plentywood Public Schools plans to use its grant to supplement higher labor costs associated with providing emergency food to families during COVID-19, purchase more food storage refrigeration units, and to purchase more food delivery materials. They are also looking ahead to the upcoming school year and will use the other half of grant funding to implement an expanded Breakfast After the Bell program in the fall.

"We are a very rural community and don’t always have the same infrastructure and resources to support food security like more populated areas," explained Plentywood Schools Superintendent Rob Pedersen. "As a district we are proud to support the holistic needs of our kids, because academic success starts with happy, healthy families. This grant has made it possible for us to take a leading role in supporting families in our community." 

Polson School District received $10,000 contributions from both Headwaters Foundation and Albertsons in partnership with Montana No Kid Hungry. The remaining funds for grant recipients mentioned above come from private donations to Share Our Strength’s No Kid Hungry campaign and through Round It Up Montana (a partnership between the Montana Restaurant and Retail Associations, ProStart, and Montana No Kid Hungry).

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. 

For more information, email Danielle Anderson of Montana No Kid Hungry at DAnderson3@mt.gov.