On June 5, 2019 in Washington DC, Elizabeth Weaver, SNAP Outreach Coordinator at the Montana Food Bank Network (MFBN), accepted the 2019 Mary Ruth Herbers SNAP Outreach Award presented by Feeding America.
With the recent state budget cuts in Montana that forced 19 Offices of Public Assistance in rural areas of Montana to close, the Montana Food Bank Network’s SNAP Outreach Program has been recognized as helping to fill in the gaps for food insecure households in these rural regions as well as continuing efforts statewide.
The burgeoning senior population in Montana has also been a primary focus for MFBN’s SNAP Outreach program, as the online application process is often difficult to navigate for this demographic. MFBN’s SNAP Outreach Program, in place for just over four years, has worked to train partner food pantries and other local service providers to offer SNAP Application Assistance.
"We know that the best way to connect local families and individuals with SNAP is to have information on SNAP available where [potential clients] already go and to have the information coming from trusted community members,” says Elizabeth Weaver, who has been known to take a flyer or two in to small town grocery stores when traveling across the state.
Over the last year, MFBN has brought six new partners on to the SNAP Application Assistance Program. All six of those partners are located in rural communities in Montana, including three from communities that lost their local Office of Public Assistance due to state budget cuts in 2018.
The Mary Ruth Herbers Award is awarded annually by Feeding America, a national anti-hunger organization. The Award honors a member food bank for pioneering a new concept or revolutionizing their SNAP program from good to great that enhances service to their communities.
The Montana Food Bank Network (MFBN) believes that everyone should have access to emergency food assistance in their time of need – no matter what. Currently 1 in 9 Montanans are struggling with hunger and food insecurity. MFBN acquires low cost, high quality food to guarantee our network of over 280 partners have food to provide when clients walk through their doors. Every month our network serves meals and provides food to more than 113,000 Montanans.