GREAT FALLS — KRTV will host its 14th annual "Day Of Giving" on Thursday, December 9, at Super One Foods from 7:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m. The event helps collect items and donations for the Great Falls Community Food Bank, Salvation Army, and Toys For Tots.
The Great Falls Community Food Bank has been around for about a half century and is an important lifeline for so many in Great Falls and Cascade County - but that wouldn't be possible without community support. Community support that never fails to show up during KRTV's annual Day Of Giving.
The food bank warehouse is well-stocked, but that doesn't mean food and monetary donations aren't needed.
"There is hunger in our county. At the last count, they say there's an estimated 10,000 people who are food insecure which means they don't know where their next meal's coming from,” explained Food Bank director Shaun Tatarka explained.
The food bank serves the community in a variety of ways.
"The food bank serves 70 agencies around tow who feed the hungry directly. We also have our backpack program which feeds elementary school children on weekends and holidays throughout the school year,” Tatarka said.
At any given time, the food bank has about 100,000 pounds of food in the warehouse. While that may seem like a lot, it's only estimated to be about a quarter of the total amount of food the warehouse could potentially hold.
"The demand for food definitely has gone up during the pandemic. Not as much as some people think, of course we're not completely out of it yet so we're not sure. We had a food supply problem early on in the pandemic. getting food was sort of an issue. They say that may happen again later this winter,” said Tatarka.
Father Dick Schlosser with St. Martin De Porres Mission in Great Falls was at the warehouse Monday collecting food for families in need.
He said partnering with the food bank has been an amazing experience.
"I served as a priest on the east side of town for 21 years and then retired and had no idea what went on in the rest of Great Falls. It's been a real revelation to me about just the extreme needs that are in this town,” Schlosser said.
As of December 6, the food bank had distributed about 850,000 pounds of food in 2021.
For Tatarka, the Day Of Giving does more than just fill shelves. It also fills his heart.
"We usually raise around 3,000 pounds (of food.) We also raise about $1,000. But it also really raises awareness. KRTV does an awesome job of getting the word out there, so it really reminds people that there's hunger in our county,” said Tatarka.
If you can’t or don’t want to participate in the Day of Giving event but would still like to help the food bank, donations can be dropped off at the food bank located at 1620 12th Ave. North in Great Falls.
The food bank is open from 7 a.m. to 2 p.m. Monday-Friday.