BILLINGS - It’s been a tumultuous year for many Montanans in the pandemic. A bright light in the middle of it all, organizations like the Billings Food Bank and Billings Family Service have been able to help people now more than ever.
“It’s a joy for us to be here,” said Director of Family Service Stacy Brown.
Food security has been an ongoing issue for many and COVID hasn’t helped. Billings Family Service has had a milestone year when it comes to helping families in need both locally and regionally.
“We have seen huge growth, not only people coming in and asking for assistance but also regionally,” Brown said.
Family Service has been able to expand to areas such as Mile City, Lewistown, Harlowton, and even as far as Cody, Wyoming. They plan on expanding even more after the first of next year.
“I think that this year, donation-wise, it’s just been remarkable,” Brown said.
Last year, Billings Family Service distributed more than 4.5 million pounds of food to almost 50,000 households locally and regionally.
“This year I will imagine that it will be half again as much if not more,” Brown said.
The pandemic has put a spotlight on the need for donations.
“COVID is part of the reason that we’ve had a good year because of the focus on hunger and food issues,” said Executive Director of the Billings Food Bank Sheryle Shandy.
The Billings Food Bank was able to serve almost 546,000 people over the last year.
“Pounds of food; 26,905,534 lbs,” Shandy said.
That means the community of Billings donated nearly 50 million dollars worth of food to those in need.
Q2’s annual Turkey Tuesday, partnered with the Billings Food Bank, was also a record-breaking event. Not only did we see the largest number of turkeys ever donated, over $57,000 in monetary donations.
“We’ve just had a really good year,” Shandy said.
It’s been an unparalleled year, but Family Service and the Billings Food Bank still have a need.
“I think that that the particular needs right now are food and rental and utility assistance,” Brown said.
Shandy says that the Food Bank receives many canned goods and is looking for more fresh produce.
“We’re wanting to start to be able to give more fruits, fresh fruits, and vegetables to all of our clients,” Shandy said.
Both organizations are beyond appreciative to be a part of the Billings community. It’s one that never ceases to go beyond their expectations.
“I always want to say thank you to our supporters cause we don’t do it by ourselves,” Shandy said.