MISSOULA — The United Way of Missoula County – which is in its 90th year of serving the community -- has decided to continue giving back to those who need it, by packaging meals for the EmPower Pack program for the Missoula Food Bank.
“The kids and families experience hunger so on Friday afternoons and at the start of school vacations so that the family gets a little help over weekends and holidays,” noted United Way of Missoula County CEO Susan Hay Patrick.
Just inside the University of Montana's University Center ballroom on Friday, 280 volunteers gathered together to distribute and package 90,000 meals of minestrone soup and cheesy rice to give to those in the Missoula community who need it the most.
“Having a full stomach isn't something that everybody has the privilege of,” UM student-athlete Declan McCave told MTN News.
The volunteers packaged the dry ingredients up and when they filled a box the sound of the bell rings it home. One down and many more to go, each filling a purpose. The boxes are then transported to the food bank where they distribute throughout the year to kids and families.
“And COVID didn't create hunger, but COVID has made hunger worse as people have lost their jobs. Many have lost their housing; people are staying home because they can't find childcare for their children. So, we know that this will be a much-needed boost to many families,” Hay Patrick said.
“Just having the opportunity to maybe help a few more families that are out in the community. Just have it know what it feels like to not have to worry about where their next meal is coming from, it's just, it's an awesome feeling,” McCave said.
Hay Patrick noted that “something like one in five Missoula County residents use the Missoula Food Bank on a regular basis.