GREAT FALLS — During a pandemic it’s business as usual at the Great Falls Community Food Bank, even though the non-profit is missing some of its favorite fundraisers, like the annual KRTV Day of Giving.
“The Day of Giving was important to us,” said Great Falls Community Food Bank Executive Director Shaun Tatarka. “Not only was it a chance for us to meet our public and see people as they come in, but also I think we’d raise a couple thousand dollars and a few thousand pounds of food.”
When the pandemic hit, the Food Bank took advantage of Covid relief funding. They were also welcomed with an unusually large number of people wanting to help.
“That was really needed because we had to cancel a lot of food drives,” said Tatarka. “But we were able to basically keep pace, and maybe even a little bit above pace because people were so generous to us last Spring.”
So far, the food bank hasn’t seen a large increase in the number of people needing their services, but that could change.
“I think it was up maybe about ten percent. So, we kind feel fortunate,” said Tatarka. “Maybe sometimes in Great Falls it takes a while for economic things to hit Great Falls usually it comes later so we’re still bracing for what could come.”
While some businesses and organizations have had to scale back due to the pandemic, that's not the case for the Great Falls Community Food Bank. In fact, the warehouse manager says they’re as busy as they’ ever been.
“We went from about 10 to 12-thousand pounds a week up to 20 to 24-thousand pounds a week so we’ve doubled,” said Great Falls Community Food Bank Warehouse Manager Doug Perrien.
Covid has presented the food bank with challenges. For health and safety reasons, older volunteers were encouraged to stay home. Some foods they would normally get from supermarkets were depleting due to customers stocking up. But the obstacles were no match for a supportive community which gave a generous supply of eggs, milk and without seeking credit, bread for the table.
“Next thing you know, people were coming in and delivering homemade bread, loaves and loaves of homemade bread,” said Perrien. “I can’t say enough about those people that came and delivered the bread.”
“It was actually pretty moving and touching how many people reached out to the food bank. They just wanted to do something for their neighbor,” said Tatarka.
While many of their food drives have been canceled, the Great Falls Community Food Bank is still welcoming both food and financial donations at their office at 1620 12th Avenue North. You can also learn more about donating on their website.