MISSOULA – United Way of Missoula County – now in its 90th year of service to the community – has decided to continue giving back to those in need, by packing meals for the EmPower Pack program for the Missoula Food Bank.
“Children and families go hungry on Friday afternoons and at the start of school holidays so the family gets a little help on weekends and holidays,” said Susan Hay Patrick, CEO of United Way of Missoula County.
Just inside the ballroom at the University of Montana College on Friday, 280 volunteers gathered to distribute and pack 90,000 meals of minestrone soup and cheese rice to donate to those in the community of Missoula who need it most.
“Having a full stomach is not something that everyone has the privilege of,” MU student-athlete Declan McCave told MTN News.
The volunteers have packed the dry ingredients and when they have filled a box, the sound of the bell rings at the house. One down and many more to go, each fulfilling a goal. The boxes are then transported to the food bank where they are distributed throughout the year to children and families.
“And COVID didn’t create the hunger, but COVID made the hunger worse because people lost their jobs. Many have lost their homes; people stay at home because they cannot find daycare for their children. So we know this will be a much needed boost for many families, ”said Hay Patrick.
“I just have the opportunity to help maybe a few other families who are in the community. Just for him to know what it feels like not to have to worry about where his next meal is coming from, that’s just, that’s a great feeling, ”said McCave.
Hay Patrick noted that “something like one in five Missoula County residents regularly uses the Missoula food bank.