HAVRE, Mont. (NMB) – The COVID-19 pandemic has forced the Havre Food Bank to close their doors to the public for now, but they are still working to service the community.
District IV Human Resources Development Council Housing Director Alma Garcia says a staffing shortage led to the closure.
“We are short staffed right now, and there was just no way of staffing the food bank at this moment. So we decided to just advertise that it was closed until November 2nd.”
However, anyone that needs emergency assistance can contact Garcia by phone at 265-6743, extension 1125.
Garcia says once they reopen on Monday, they are committed to remaining open and serving the community as best they can. She adds that demand is increasing with the holidays approaching.
However, due to the pandemic, they are unable to accept many volunteers that are willing to help. They cannot have any volunteers over the age of 62, and the number of volunteers that can be in the building at one time are limited.
“We’re looking for volunteers as soon as we’re able to. We’re looking forward to that.”
Farmers to Families Food Boxes
Over the last several weeks, the Food Bank has received a pair of generous donations from the USDA’s Farmers to Families program.
Over 700 boxes were given out for free with no paperwork or eligibility requirements.
“The reception was amazing. I think it was something that was very needed in the community and we had long lines to get their food boxes…As soon as they got the boxes, their faces lit up. It was very needed by the community to just get that little bit of help during these times. It sparked hope.”
The food boxes contained chicken taco mix, chicken patties, shredded cheese, butter, potatoes, apples, oranges and milk.
Garcia says they are working on getting another shipment of boxes through the USDA, but a specific date has not been set.
E.L.F. Food Drive
The Everyone Loves a Firefighter food drive was held last week, with minimal person-to-person contact due to COVID-19.
The drive collected 2,427 pounds of food that will be distributed to families this upcoming holiday season. This is far below the 6,000-12,000 pounds of food the drive normally brings in.
“There was less donations this year, as far as food goes, which is something we’ve seen throughout the whole year. Everybody is struggling and it’s harder to donate food during this time. We were grateful to have the E.L.F. drive and serve our community and get as much as we can out to the public that needs it.”
There are several other food drives currently ongoing.
One is the Havre Jaycees Canned Food Drive, which is being held in lieu of their annual Haunted House, which was canceled due to COVID-19 concerns.
There is also the annual Town Pump “Be a Friend Indeed, Help Those in Need” campaign.
“That’s going on through the end of November. And Town Pump matches dollar-for-dollar, up to $10,000, for the Havre Community Food Bank. This is one of our biggest fundraiser and it (allows us) to be able to keep the lights on and keep the refrigerators going and everything with that funding. So that’s also a very important fundraiser that’s going on right now.”
Donations are accepted at the cash register of Town Pump’s as well as the HRDC District IV front desk.
Donations can also be dropped off at the Food Bank, even while they are closed.
The items they need most right now are peanut butter, cereal and non-perishable canned items.