Hunger in Montana

Learn about Hunger in Montana

Learn about Hunger in Montana

Approximately 1 in 8 Montanans struggle with hunger, including 45,000 children living in food insecure homes.




The consequences of hunger are severe and long-lasting:

  • Individuals experiencing food insecurity have increased rates of both physical and mental health challenges.
  • Children struggling with hunger are more likely to have impaired cognitive development, lower math and reading score, and higher rates of absenteeism.
  • Food insecurity among seniors leads to a variety of health problems including an increased chance of being hospitalized, a worsening of chronic conditions, and a weakened immune system.
  • Hunger also has a significant economic impact on our state due to preventable health care costs, lower educational attainment, and lost productivity in the workforce.

Hunger is directly related to the larger problem of economic insecurity in our state.  Low wages, job loss, and insufficient fixed incomes leave many families unable to keep food on the table, while trying to afford the rising costs of housing, child care, and medical care.

Limited access to food also contributes to hunger and food insecurity in Montana.  Thirty of Montana’s 56 counties have areas considered food deserts: low income areas where at least 500 people and/or 33% of the residents must travel more than ten miles to the nearest supermarket (or 1 mile in urban areas).  In Montana, nearly 72,000 individuals live in areas considered food deserts and have limited access to a grocery store or supermarket, making access to fresh, affordable food a daily challenge.

Finally, hunger and food insecurity are worsened in our state due to the underutilization of the public food programs such as SNAP, WIC, School Breakfast, and the Summer Food Service Program. Lack of knowledge about the programs, confusion over eligibility, limited program availability in some areas, as well as the stigma of participating in public programs are some of the reasons participation in these excellent programs is not maximized, contributing to increased food insecurity rates in Montana.

Donations to the Montana Food Bank Network enable us to help approximately 150 agencies across Montana provide food to those in need. In 2015, 110,000 Montanans received food through the agencies of the Montana Food Bank Network. In addition to providing emergency food, the Montana Food Bank Network works to increase participation in the public food programs and supports policies to bring sustainable long-term solutions to hunger.

Please join us in the effort to end hunger in Montana!


What is food insecurity?
The inability to access food in a consistent manner, resulting in reduced quality or variety of diet. While food banks and federal nutrition programs have made severe hunger and malnutrition rare in this country, millions of low-income Americans are still faced with food insecurity.


What is hunger?
Hunger occurs when households must reduce food intake or skip meals because the household lacks money and other resources for food. Hunger is also defined as the uneasy or painful sensation caused by lack of food.


Who is Hungry and Why?
Watch food pantry clients talk about why they are hungry.  


Hungry in Montana Report
This report is intended to examine the underlying factors contributing to hunger
in our state and share the experiences of food pantry clients. The 2016 report
shows that a combined effort to improve family economic security, increase
participation in public food programs, ensure adequate amounts of food available
through the emergency food system, and increase access to healthy foods are
the most effective ways to assure food security for hungry Montanans.
Hungry in Montana 2016 Report