July 2023 – No matter which Helena supermarket you frequent, you have likely encountered one of your neighbors handing you a shopping list and asking you to shop for others in need of food. It could be Scouts participating in a service activity, local church members living their faith, employees from a local business who are inspired to give back to their community, AmeriCorps volunteers involved in community service activities, students wanting to learn more about the needs in their community, or an outdoor performance venue asking you to feed families while holding down blankets.
Albertson’s, Heritage IGA, Natural Grocers, Real Food Market & Deli, Super 1 Foods, Safeway, and Van’s Thriftway managers are always ready to host food drives for Helena Food Share. Did you know that 180,056 pounds of food were donated by community members last year through food drives and donations brought to the Pantry?
Most volunteer activities at Helena Food Share are limited to those over 16, but many younger kids really want to be involved in getting food to those in need. “Food Drives are a great way to involve young family members in Helena Food Share activities,” said Cathy Ransier, Volunteer Coordinator at Helena Food Share. “They are joined by family, group leaders, or teachers at the stores or in neighborhoods collecting food.”
Ten to 15 food drives are held yearly at grocery stores in town, and another 40 by groups collecting food at doorsteps, mailboxes, and offices. The largest food drive of the year just took place at the Symphony Under the Stars concert on July 15. Concert-goers place canned goods on blankets they set out, and Helena Food Share volunteers collected cans throughout the evening. This year’s goal of collecting 23,000 lbs of food in 2023 was exceeded by 999, bringing in a total of 23,999 pounds.
In addition to collecting food at stores, homes, schools, offices, and events, donated food is often brought to the Pantry side door every week – from people’s homes and gardens. Cathy added, “The food people donate brings a lot of variety in food types and brands to our Pantry shelves which are always appreciated by our customers. Food from drives and donations is critical for meeting the need in our community.”