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Cannabis community unites to feed hungry in Billings, provides catered meals and 're-leaf kits'

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Posted at 9:02 AM, Jan 23, 2024
and last updated 2024-01-23 13:21:19-05

BILLINGS — The cannabis community in Montana is stepping up to feed the hungry in downtown Billings, providing catered meals once a month just outside the Montana Rescue Mission. But that relief is going a lot further than food by also providing essential “re-leaf kits” with necessities to survive on the streets during winter.

“In our community, there’s a lot of people who want to care and help. It's really become amazing, the people we can help. We fed 500 people right here at the skate park with Temptation Food. They did brick oven pizza right out of the back of their food truck,” says Ryan Wright, TOP owner.

On the last Sunday of every month, you’ll also find volunteers from companies like Holistic Releaf by Design handing out hygiene kits with the meals. It is a partnership with Ryan Wright and his business TOP, That Other Place, a local medical marijuana shop.

“They hand out socks, toothpaste, toothbrushes, pads for women and it's just a whole bunch of things,” says Wright.

From the kits to the food, it’s all served up with a lot of love in a monthly event that’s come to be known as ‘You hungry?’ serving anyone who’s hungry, no questions asked.

“Every time Ryan calls us, we schedule to go out and feed the homeless. It’s hard out here right now for everybody, so we just try to help out as much as we can,” says Nathan Pryor, 406 Wingz owner.

Nathan Pryor and Tiffany Krank own 406 Wingz food truck. They’ve served up and sponsored three meals so far, totaling some 400 meals.

“It's not big corporations that are doing it. It's these family-owned businesses that are giving back to the communities that support them,” says Wright.

“I just like to be able to give people something, even if it's just a tiny thing because it could mean the world to them,” says Tiffani Krank, 406 Wingz owner.

A humbling experience Wright says for the cannabis community and beyond, as the volunteer operation grows from its humble beginnings four years ago when Ryan and his son Gabriel fed chili out of the back of their car on Christmas.

“Back in 2019, me and my son were alone for Christmas. We didn’t have anything to do, so we just went and made a big batch of chili and drove around town and just handed it out,” says Wright.

“I just feel satisfied to know that somebody is fed, somebody’s son or daughter has their next meal,” says Pryor.

The most recent feed was sponsored by Jersey Mikes, with 160 meals gone in about an hour.

“You’ll see people you would think were fine, but you can tell they are hungry, and just being able to see a little bit of gratitude is a life-changing experience for some of these people,” says Wright.

In fact, Wright says something as simple as a sandwich can serve as a lifeline, adding that this is his new purpose in life after joining the military in 2004 and then being medically discharged after an injury in Iraq.

“That was going to be my career for my whole life, and it was gone in the blink of an eye,” says Wright.

It’s a similar story heard on the streets, when life changes in an instant.