The Food Security Council recognizes individuals and organizations who have worked to reduce hunger and improve the nutritional status of Montanans. The 2017 awards were presented by the Food Security Council and First Lady Lisa Bullock to the following recipients:
Treasure State Award: For the Most Treasured Volunteer
Amelia has been involved with the Chinook Food Pantry since its beginnings in 1998 and served as its Executive Director until the end of 2015. Amelia has encouraged new ideas, is a good listener, and finds creative ways to raise funds and seek volunteers. She is a caring friend to each client, treating everyone with dignity and concern. She will always be the face of the Chinook Food Pantry.
Gates of the Mountain: For Opening the Gates to End Hunger
Montana OPI School Nutrition Team
This team, led by Christine Emerson, is dedicated to ensuring that all of Montana’s school children have access to quality, nutritious meals while they are at school and over the summer. They excel at maximizing limited resources, reviewing school meal and summer food programs throughout the entire state of Montana, providing individualized support and assistance to all programs. As a result of their exceptional efforts, Montana has one of the highest rates of participation in the Community Eligibility Provision in the nation and has been looked to as an example of successful implementation. They are incredible partners to many groups throughout the state.
Glacier Award: For Moving Mountains to End Hunger
Jill Holder, Operations Manager, at Gallatin Valley Food Bank, is passionate about food and shares this passion by ensuring that individuals in her community and surrounding areas have access to affordable, nutritious food. She is constantly building partnerships to maintain the quality and quantity of supplies on the Food Bank shelves. Recently, Jill piloted new distribution locations and time slots for the Belgrade community, helping reach more people and shed light on barriers the community of Belgrade faces in accessing emergency food assistance. This is just one of the many examples of Jill consistently going above and beyond for clients of the Gallatin Valley Food Bank.
Big Sky Award: For Business of the Year
Gary & Leo’s IGA in Conrad and Havre. Jamie Byrnes and Brenda Friede
This year’s business award goes to a business in two different communities. Both the Pondera Food Pantry and Havre Food Bank have expressed support from the Gary & Leo’s IGA in their community. Jamie and the employees in Conrad provided over 11,000 pounds of donated food through the grocery rescue program in 2016. In addition, they extend discounts and assist in finding the lowest pricing on food purchased by the Pondera Food Pantry.
Brenda in Havre has been instrumental in raising funds for the holiday baskets every year bringing in $7,000 to $10,000 every year. They also conduct food drives, donate food through the grocery rescue program, and have donated shelving, coolers and fulfilled other needs of the Pantry. They have never turned down a request. Thank you to Gary and Leo’s IGA!
Amber Waves of Grain Award: For Promoting Local Healthy Food
Garden City Harvest
Garden City Harvest has created consistent and sustainable access to nutritious food by establishing the Community Gardens Program. They also conduct Farm to School, summer camps, neighborhood farms, youth development, and offer CSA subscriptions. Many years ago, Garden City Harvest contacted the WIC program to donate excess lettuce, ultimately leading to additional produce and the creation of an education program on preparation of fresh produce to WIC clients. They not only engage individuals to establish their own garden plots, the generously donate to the Poverello Center homeless shelter, the Missoula Food Bank, Youth Homes and may other agencies around Missoula.
Lewis and Clark Award: For Discovering Ways to Fight Hunger
Blaine County Community
The Chinook Food Pantry wanted to recognize the Blaine County Community for their generosity in responding to the needs of their neighbors. Blaine County is one of the lower populated areas in Montana and is in the bottom third in median household income, yet the community consistently supports the Chinook Pantry with food and funds. Hunters have donated over wild game with the processing fees covered by the hunters and processor. Food drives are conducted by churches, youth groups, the volunteer fire and EMS department, and area residents. Local ranchers donate large quantities of beef and the 4-H donate birthday bags for the children of Pantry clients. While this type of involvement is not unique to Blaine County, it is more than commendable for the size and economic status of the county itself.
Congratulations to all of the awardees! Your efforts are truly making a difference in our state and in the lives of the families and individuals you work with. Thank you for all you do.
For more information on the awards, contact Gayle Carlson at firstname.lastname@example.org. The next awards will be in April 2019.