|Jun 24, 2010 --
It's good to be in demand, but Polson Loaves & Fish Food Pantry in Polson, Montana was struggling with its popularity.
A member of the Montana Food Bank Network, Polson Loaves & Fish Food Pantry provides nutritious food to families in need across Lake County. This completely volunteer organization serves hundreds of families and thousands of pounds of food annually, and up until 2010 were doing it in a 900 square foot space with some refrigerators and chest freezers.
"We had outgrown our space," said Sid Rundell, Board President. In June, 2010, the food pantry was able to move to a spacious new location providing over four times the space. The customer area now looked not unlike a small grocery store, with coolers and shelving and space for the families to gather their resources.
With that expansion, Polson Loaves & Fish needed more storage and moving capacity. "We needed a walk-in freezer badly," said Rundell. "We had chest freezers, but trying to make sure stock was rotated and maintain the ‘first in, first out' rule was really difficult. We also needed a forklift to better move our donations. Thankfully, USDA Rural Development was able to help."
Through a Community Facilities grant of $20,000, Polson Loaves & Fish purchased a walk-in freezer to supplement their storage capacity, and a forklift to move the donations they receive from the community. Rundell continued, "We're all volunteers here, including the board. The Knights of Columbus come down to help move and sort food, Super 1 and Safeway give us their older stock, and the new location gives us the ability to better organize and maintain the ebb and flow of goods we receive. We couldn't do this without the large community support we have."
The struggling economy increased traffic at the food pantry, with the un- and under-employed in the region trying to make ends meet and keep their lives together. Polson Loaves & Fish has plans to expand their service to the community, especially with the increased traffic, by providing nutrition and cooking classes in the future.
"We want to help these families make it through the lean times. We continue to do our best to meet demand, and we're thankful for large community support we have here in Polson."
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