Neighborhood NewsGreat Falls - Cascade County


'Branches on the Spectrum' hosts chili cook-off fundraiser

Branches on the Spectrum Chili Cook-Off.png
Posted at 4:38 PM, May 27, 2024

"Branches on the Spectrum" hosted a chili cook-off fundraiser on Saturday at Western Feed Corral, where participants submitted their best chili recipes to battle it out in support of helping children on the autism spectrum develop social skills.

Participants in the chili cook off brought their best chili recipes to compete for the first place prize, 50 pounds of ground beef. Visitors could taste test each pot of chili before purchasing a bowl for $5, and of course cool their taste buds off with a trip to the ice cream truck.

Autism-awareness agency hosts Chili Cook-Off

The event also included a silent auction and a 50/50 raffle for various items donated by businesses.

The chili contest was then judged by members of the Black Eagle Fire Department.

The money raised from the cook off went to Branches On The Spectrum, a nonprofit focusing on helping children on the spectrum in Cascade County.

The program is also available to children who haven’t been diagnosed, but require extra help developing skills like decision making, raising their self-esteem by allowing them to accomplish tasks on their own.

The children in the program are taken to the Branches on the Spectrum farm where they care for animals like chickens, cows, and horses. They are given responsibilities like feeding the animals, collecting eggs, and cooking.

Tina Hunter, director of Branches on the Spectrum, says, “They get to interact with the different animals, which helps them with coping skills and also decision making skills. We do square foot gardening so they have their own little spot to take care of and they get to take the produce home to their families, and just seeing their little eyes when they know that they are helping the family is the best.”

Branches on the Spectrum was started only a year ago in 2023, and already has plans to expand their program. The non-profit is currently in talks with the city about developing a sensory garden and greenhouse at Wadsworth Park.

Hunter explains, “We want to go in there clean up the area and beautify it with this sensory garden, greenhouse vegetable garden. Then we get to go to the farmer's market and they learn how to make money.” They also would like to expand to be able to admit more children into their programs from their waitlist.

For more information about Branches on the Spectrum, click here to visit the website.