BUTTE - I’m here with Elizabeth, she’s the star cook at the Butte Rescue Mission, and this year has been a record year of serving food to the community than they’ve had ever since they opened just a few years ago.
“Oh, it’s so good you guys, it’ll keep you toasty, it’s so chilly outside,” said Elizabeth Gardiner.
Butte resident Claude Vail said, “If it wasn’t for this people would be starving, so we’re grateful for this place. I am.”
The rescue mission on East Platinum reported a 30 percent increase in people at its free meal program. It serves about 250 meals a day for lunch and dinner. Shelter officials believe this is due to the rising cost of groceries and lack of affordable housing.
“The price of rents going up, so there’s just not enough paycheck for the month and so people are needing some assistance in food,” said Butte Rescue Mission Director Brayton Erickson.
The shelter estimates it will serve about 90,000 meals in 2023, which is up from about 77,000 in 2022.
“Oh, this program is absolutely necessary. The community is struggling with food and trying to live,” said Gardiner.
Shelter officials say many of the people that use the free meal program are not homeless and even have jobs. Many just don’t have the money for groceries.
“I’m out of work right now, but I’m usually working, but even when I’m working you can’t afford the bills so I still come down here and eat,” said Vail.
The shelter expects the need will be even greater in the new year and encourages people to donate food and clothing to the shelter.