6,172 Food boxes distributed through September 2020
The COVID-19 pandemic created significant strains on the food system in western Montana. With the closures of schools and restaurants, many farmers lost a portion of their market and had fewer opportunities to sell their products.
Western Montana Growers Cooperative (WMGC) experienced a 60% decrease in sales to restaurants and institution accounts in March and April 2020.
The economic downturn associated with COVID-19 also caused financial challenges for Montana families.
From March 14th to March 21st, initial unemployment claims in Montana jumped from 922 per week to nearly 17,000, eventually rising to over 26,000 claims the week of April 4th
(Montana Department of Labor and Industry). Additionally, the Montana Food Bank Network reported a 40% increase in the number of visits to food pantries in April 2020 compared to April 2019.
These numbers reflected the negative economic impact of COVID-19 and the rapidly growing need for immediate food aid and distribution in Montana.
“[MT Farmers Union] it is a farmer organization that feels very strongly that we support our small-scale farmers, because that’s the backbone of agriculture in our nation.”Jan Tusick, MFU Member and Board Member
Farmers to Families Food Box Project Impact Report, October 2020. Lake County Community Development Corporation, https://lakecountycdc.org/