If you're thinking of a food item, chances are the Great Falls Community Food Bank has it. Something else they have is a question - they're wondering why Summer 2022 was the busiest they've seen on record.
They've never fed so many people in one summer, though, setting what they believe is the new record for their busiest summer since opening in 1987. Director Shaun Tatarka says it was certainly the busiest summer in his time at the food bank.
"I’ve been here about nine years, and we’ve never seen anything like this,” He said. “This summer, we saw an increase in need that we have never seen before. We were up about 48% from the summer before, and we're not 100% sure what the reason is, whether it's the economy, whether it's, you know, the effects of COVID still going on, unemployment, that kind of thing. But we know that our agencies are putting out a lot more food than they have previously."
They have fulfilled the community needs of the summer and the agencies they partner with continue to do what they can to address the growing need.
Helping Hands is one of the biggest partners with the food bank. They estimate they are giving between 8,000 and 10,000 pounds of food each month.
Kenton Miller and his family started volunteering with them earlier this year and enjoy their time. It’s living up to Kenton’s expectations and he doesn’t see a break coming.
"They have around a thousand people that come through every month. I don't see it necessarily slowing down, so I don't see the market necessarily tapering off as far as the housing market and the whole economy. And so I think it's going to keep on being like this as long as there's food available to give out. We're just trying to share, share love and share goodwill to other people."
The food bank is continuing to accept donations as well. And although they're doing their part, they still aren't sure what's around the corner.
“We're not 100% sure why the need has gone up so drastically,” Tatarka said. “Obviously, I mean, inflation, I'm sure, has a lot to do with it. We're having a tough time meeting the needs right now. We've managed to meet all our needs. We've completely fulfilled our mission. We do still have a little in reserve. So we're not in any kind of, you know, dire straits or anything like that. But it's just a little alarming, the increase that we have seen in the past six months."
For more information, or if you would like to donate, click here to visit the organization's website.
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