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By Ed Moreth 

Helping those who help others

Plains food bank in need as holiday season approaches

 

November 15, 2018

Ed Moreth

LOW ON GOODS – Plains Community Food Bank volunteer Dennis Ovitt gets a batch of food ready for a customer.

As the holidays approach, the Plains Community Food Bank is striving to help people in need, but to help others the food bank needs help. The shelves at the food bank are normally stocked well, but they are finding themselves with empty shelves and without several basic food items, said Jack Dowell, one of a handful of volunteers at the food bank, located on Central Avenue across from the Assembly of God Church on the Move.

Dowell said they are presently missing several items that the food bank would normally include in the Thanksgiving dinner box. They've already received 85 turkeys and have potatoes, but as of last week, they didn't have cranberry sauce, canned pumpkin, yams, or rolls. Dowell said they might receive some of the items in the delivery from the Montana Food Bank Network this week, but if they don't get the needed food items the Thanksgiving boxes will be short, resulting in a less than cheerful holiday for some.

The Plains Community Food Bank is a service by the Church on the Move, the First Lutheran Church and the Christian Alliance Church. It periodically receives food from the federal government about every six weeks, but the last shipment was short several items. They also sometimes receive donations from individuals, churches and the Polson Food Bank. Recently, they received 91 pounds of food from the U.S. Forest Service. Clark Fork Valley Hospital is doing a food drive for the food bank and as of Monday had collected 216 items and $675, which the hospital will match, said Tina Dockter, organizer of the hospital food drive. Dockter said she plans to take the money and items to the food bank on Friday. The hospital has been conducting a drive for the food bank since 2011.

"It's a great program. It's all about giving back to the community," said Dockter. Last year, they collected nearly 230 food items and $310; the hospital also donated $310.

Dowell said people have also donated money, which goes to buy food and pay for the electricity in the 900 square foot building. They also use some of the funds to pay for items from the Montana Food Bank System. "One gentleman every year gives us a substantial check and it really helps us," said Dowell.

The food bank is open each Tuesday from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. All of the people who work there are volunteers. The nonprofit organization serves about 75 families a month, said Dowell, and most are the same people month after month. Qualification is based on income.

"This is the lowest we've been in the last year," said Dowell, who's been a volunteer on and off for 10 years. "It's the worst time of the season for us," he added. "This is important to people, especially if they're raising a family," he said. Dowell said that during the summer locals with gardens donate homegrown fruits and vegetables, but the gardens are gone for the year.

Volunteer Doug Collier feels people are very generous and the food bank is important to people in the community. "This is important because God has told us it's a scriptural thing to do," said Dowell. Those people who sign up to receive food can only pick up food once a month, although they can get fresh produce more often, but Dowell said the food they get only lasts a family one or two days. "We had this one lady that said she'd been living on potatoes for five days; she was so happy to get real food," said Dowell.

The food bank also needs other items that are not Thanksgiving related, such as canned foods, produce, bread, meat, frozen vegetables, canned meat, soup, and peanut butter, a very popular item, said volunteer Dennis Ovitt.

The next scheduled shipment will contain 1,522 pounds of food, but Dowell said they're not sure what will be included. People who would like to donate food or money can drop it off at the Church on the Move or call the church office at 826-3800.

 

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