Food Banks were originally intended to fill the gap when households were out of food and resources due to an emergency. Emergency situations are now less than half of our client load. We serve the underemployed, households whose income does not stretch to cover food expenses, seasonally employed households, older adults living on fixed incomes, as well as households who are temporarily homeless. High housing costs and underemployment continue to push people in the Gallatin Valley and in Southwest Montana towards food insecurity. Thankfully, people can still count on the Food Bank. While the Gallatin Valley Food Bank is proud of our success in helping families in need, we are saddened that so many people continue to need our help. More often than not, at least one person in every household we serve has someone currently employed.
Who is food insecure in Gallatin County–And Why?
Food insecurity is an income issue and poverty is one of the strongest predictors of food insecurity. 1 in 7 Gallatin County residents (13.8%) live below the federal poverty level. The USDA estimates that until a family’s income is 185% above the poverty line they are at risk of experiencing food insecurity. In May of 2014, we followed all 131 households that were new to the GVFB that month. Results from our New Client Study show that 74% of our clients live at the 100% benchmark–for a family of four, this is only $25,200 a year.
Results from the New Client Study show that most of our clients only visit the Food Bank 1-2 times over the course of a year, contrary to one particularly persistent sentiment- that food bank clients chronically taking advantage of services available to them.