With the approval of the Board of Directors, Clearwater Credit Union announced a $25,000 donation to the Montana Food Bank Network (MFBN) during the 2020 Clearwater Annual Member meeting on Tuesday, June 23, 2020.
Clearwater’s donation provides vital financial support for MFBN emergency assistance programs like the Mail-A-Meal Program. The Mail-A-Meal program aids rural Montana communities that suffer from food insecurity due to their remote nature, low population, or lack of access to nutritious, quality food sources. Through this program, Montanans in need of assistance can sign up to have a thirty-pound box of non-perishable food items delivered to their home.
Neptune Aviation has provided space to store supplies and assemble the meal boxes, while employees from Alaska Airlines/Horizon Airlines are helping to assemble the packages. A team of Clearwater staff also volunteered to assemble boxes and as part of the United Way of Missoula DIY Day of Action. With the financial assistance from Clearwater, MFBN plans to distribute throughout Montana.
“MFBN is so grateful for the generous gift from Clearwater Credit Union to support our rural outreach efforts,” said Gayle Carlson, CEO of Montana Food Bank Network. “Not only did they fund enough food boxes to provide for 31,000 meals, they sent a volunteer crew to pack the boxes for distribution. We can’t thank them enough for this level of support!”
MFBN currently operates 8 Mail-a-Meal drop-sites across the state of Montana. They ship a pallet of food boxes to a centralized location where a community partner handles the distribution of the boxes. Three Mail-a-Meal drop-sites are designed specifically to serve seniors and include a box of food designed to meet their specific nutritional needs, including low-sugar, low-sodium, and whole-grain options.
In 2018, the Mail-A-Meal program distributed 56,750 pounds of food to rural Montana households situated in areas commonly referred to as, “food deserts.”
The Montana Food Bank Network’s Mail-A -Meal program perfectly exemplifies Clearwater’s core values by fostering an environment in which underserved, food-insecure communities are granted access to basic necessities. Mail-A-Meal is such an important program because it not only provides nutritious food to communities and families who do not have these resources readily available to them, but it connects the greater Montana community in the production process. It was such a privilege to be a part of this meal packing day and to see the ways in which the Missoula community continually comes together in order to create a more inclusive and sustainable society.— Audrey Domski
During the months of March and April, MFBN saw an increase in new customer visits to their network partners throughout the state ranging from 30% to 100%, or higher. In 2019, the food bank network estimated that 1 in 9 Montanans live in households struggling with hunger, including 1 in 6 children.
“Giving back to the communities we serve is deeply rooted in Clearwater’s culture. With the ongoing public health and economic crises, resources are tighter than ever across Montana. We are very pleased to be able to support the Food Bank’s efforts to help those in need,” said Jack Lawson, President & CEO of the credit union.