BILLINGS - As COVID relief runs out, many more are expected to need assistance or just dinner.
The Billings Food Bank is in the middle of a Farm to Trunk food distribution, connecting the community to nutritious food.
The USDA, local growers, and the nonprofit Farm-Link have all teamed up with the food bank to distribute protein and produce along with food already being given to those in need.
"They have been absolutely phenomenal with us, and so we've had so much produce, and now we're getting some of the USDA stuff, and then along with our local producers. Six thousand pounds of hamburger, so we've had a lot of local support. We've been doing really well," Billings Food Bank Executive Director Sheryle Shandy said.
Farm-Link connects food banks to farms and surplus produce from suppliers. They also take on all transportation fees to get the food where it is needed.
"It's really tough for people who have never had to have help before. It's a very humbling experience. Number one the shock, to be in this position at their ages-a lot of them are older. And it's one of the reasons that we went to this farm to truck model, where we don't ask any questions," Shandy said.
"And they'll be crying and thanking us, and especially the folks that we've made this easy for them to accept our help and not expected anything from them. The flip side of that is, well, people will say well how do you know that they really needed it? That's not for us to make the decision," she added.
In addition to their normal donations and distributing, they accept donations and offer assistance in emergency or disaster situations.
"We've set up a mobile response now, and we've got a refrigerated truck that we can fill, and we've got a dry truck, and next week we're going to Roundup to help the (wildfire) disaster victims there," Shandy said.
Despite the trying economic times many have endured in the last year, donations have continuously streamed in from the community as well.
"We have never lost in donations. If you see behind me, this stuff has all just come in today," Shandy said. "It's just been an amazing response to everyone knowing this is a real critical time in the food banking industry."
The Food Bank can still use donations for every day and emergencies, including items less expected, such as formula, hygiene supplies and pet food.