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 customer base. We serve anyone who needs help stretching their food budget. 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 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.
Food insecurity is an income issue and poverty is one of the strongest predictors of food insecurity. 1 in 7 Gallatin County residents (13%) live below the federal poverty level. (Source: 2013-2017 American Community Survey 5-Year Estimates). The USDA estimates that until a family’s income is 185% above the poverty line they are at risk of experiencing food insecurity. Nearly 96% of our customers live below this benchmark. For a household of two, this is only $31,284 annually. Our area also poses unique challenges when it comes to affordable housing. A minimum wage worker in Gallatin County needs to work 81 hours per week to afford a two-bedroom home at fair market rent. (Source: Out of Reach, National Low Income Housing Coalition, 2019)
Food Insecurity – is the inability to access food in a consistent and socially acceptable manner to meet the family’s nutritional needs. Food insecurity is characterized by not having the financial means to buy or grow food, the need for emergency food assistance, and adults skipping meals. Food insecurity exists when the availability of nutritionally adequate food or the ability to access it on a consistent basis is uncertain or limited.
Hunger – is the condition where both adults and children cannot access food consistently and have to reduce food intake, eat poor diets and often go without any food. Hunger is the physiological effect of food insecurity and is also defined as the uneasy or painful sensation that is caused by a lack of food.
What is hunger? Who is hungry in our community? What can we do?
Hunger 101 is one of the ways Gallatin Valley Food Bank can help you, your organization, or your school become educated about hunger and poverty in our community and explore potential solutions. Hunger 101 is an educational project adapted from Atlanta Community Food Bank, that includes an introduction to hunger and poverty in Montana, the US, and the World and includes activities, and a workshop that we can lead for you!
Ask about our Community Food Game! It’s fun and engaging! (It takes at least 20 people)
Discussing hunger with members of your family, especially children, helps them build empathy and understanding for others. While food security can sound complex, everyone can relate to the feeling of hunger.
Some questions to start conversations about hunger:
Children’s books that shed light on hunger and poverty:
Nonperishable donations can be dropped off at most local grocery stores. Look for donation bins near the front of each store.
Donations during off-peak hours are encouraged (8 am- 12:00 pm or after 2:30 pm).