MFU participates in Farmers to Families Food Box program
July 17, 2020
(Great Falls, MT) Montana Farmers Union is pleased to partner with the Western Montana Growers Cooperative and Lake County Community Development Corporation to distribute boxes of Montana-grown produce to families in need as part of the Farmers to Families Food Box program. This program will support local farmers who lost markets due to closures of schools and restaurants.
Western Montana Growers Cooperative is the recipient of the USDA Farmers to Families Food Box contract under the Coronavirus Food Assistance Program. With additional funding from the Headwaters Foundation, Montana Farmers Union, and the USDA’s Local Food Promotion Program grant, this initiative will distribute 6200 boxes of Montana-grown produce to families in need while supporting local farmers who lost markets due to closures of schools and restaurants.
Western Montana Growers Cooperative will source and deliver the produce to Lake County Community Development’s Mission Mountain Food Enterprise Center, a USDA and FDA-inspected food processing facility, where the produce will be packed into family-sized boxes. The boxes will then be distributed to families by food pantries and other community organizations. A typical box will include approximately 10 pounds of fresh, local food such as kale, salad mix, beets, cabbage, and carrots. The project will run from mid-July to mid-November.
“The Coronavirus pandemic hit our farmers and ranchers hard,” said Walter Schweitzer, Montana Farmers Union President. “Our most vulnerable populations are facing unprecedented food insecurity. The Farmers to Families Food Box program is consistent with our mission of feeding hungry Montanans and supporting Montana farmers and ranchers.”
“This is another example of excellent collaboration between the Western Montana Growers Cooperative and the Mission Mountain Food Enterprise Center as we work together to increase access to local food by connecting our local producers and community during this pandemic.” said Jan Tusick, Mission Mountain Food Enterprise Center Director.
“The USDA Farmers to Families Program provides an excellent opportunity for local farmers to sell products that might otherwise go to waste and connects Montanans in need with fresh and nutritious produce right from the farm. We are thankful to have the opportunity to participate,” said Dave Prather, General Manager at Western Montana Growers Cooperative.
Multiple organizations are assisting with the distribution of the food boxes, including the Montana Food Bank Network, Salish Kootenai College Community Health and Development Department, Polson Loaves and Fish Pantry, Ronan Bread Basket, Arlee Community Development, Mission Valley Food Pantry, and Flathead Reservation Community Action.