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Food. The one thing that can comfort us when nothing else will. The one thing we can give and share that will bring a smile to the faces of the weary, the lonely, the sick or the sad. And the one thing we all need to survive.

Northern Rockies Medical Center will be the first to admit, food helps their staff make it through some long shifts and trying times, much like the ones we are all dealing with at the present. 

Recently, during all the busy-ness and hectic-ness of dealing with the Coronavirus, community members stepped up big time to see that the staff of NRMC, working so many long hours, would be fed and rejuvenated by food consumption, to continue their diligent and necessary work. 

“What an overwhelming amount of love from this community!” exclaimed Stephanie Eney, Quality and Risk Manager and Marketing Manager at NRMC. 

Eney was referring to all the food donations the hospital received over the last week or so. That list of contributions included:

“Gail Davis bought pizza for the nursing staff. Edward Jones bought pizza twice in one day, for both the daytime and p.m. staff. Tanya Harper and Zona and Jerry Swenson collaborated and bought burgers and fries for the employees. The Garden of Eat-In brought up fresh-baked cinnamon rolls. Canvas Church put together little trees with $5 gift cards on it for either Cut Bank Creek Brewery or Latte Da. Knut, our resident Schwan Man, bought pizza for the nursing staff. Cut Bank Creek Brewery gave employees fresh root beer. The Messy Apron cooked up some pizza for the nurses. It seemed pizza was the meal of the week. And Brian and LeAnne Kavanagh donated $100 to our snack fund, keeping the snacks and employees both fully charged,” Eney said happily.

“All of the donations made such a difference in moral. It was so cool to see how appreciative everyone was for all the goodies we received,” she added.

You can also find out how important donations are of food or cash, if you ask the volunteers at the Harvest Food Pantry.

Patty Grubb, who organizes the “troops” at the Harvest Food Pantry in Cut Bank, said, “We are so fortunate in that we are stocked so well right now, which in turn means we can give those people that need a little extra help right now, some food to feed their families.”

Grubb continued, “With all the virus concerns, donations of canned goods or other foods, means a lot of extra work for our staff to wipe everything down, sanitizing it before we can hand it out to people. We also do not know where those items might have been before coming to us,” Grubbs said. “If we receive cash donations, we can purchase the food directly from the store and even though we will be wiping it down, it will be to items we know came directly from the store. That saves us a whole lot of time getting items ready for distribution.”

In keeping with the necessary sanitizing and social distancing restrictions, the food pantry will still be handing out food on Friday from 9-10 a.m., but will not be allowing people to come inside the pantry.

“Instead, what we are doing is having people pull up to the back door in the alley and we will bring the food out to them, either leaving it close to their car or putting it in the car for them, if they are unable to do that themselves,” she explained. “We are trying to limit the amount of exposure for our volunteers and still help the community. Only our volunteers are allowed inside the food pantry at this time.”

Speaking of helping, Grubb said they are helping “everyone who needs it right now. We are not asking for any type of identification or information from anyone. If they come to us on Friday, they will be given food for their families.”

Grubb said the Friday time is the only time they will be distributing food. “There will not be any distributions made on the last Thursday of the month until further notice,” she noted. 

There are a number of organizations that help the Harvest Food Pantry throughout the year, along with many individuals too. New to that list is Hopa Mountain, which recently facilitated a $5,000 grant for the food pantry.

“Hopa Mountain is an organization that helps out places like our food pantry, ensuring they get the money or the resources they need to feed the people of our community. They not only helped the food pantry but assisted in getting money so fabric could be purchased from Coulee Quilts so that Glacier Colony could make some masks for people. They are an amazing organization!” she exclaimed. 

With those monies, and others provided by other individuals and organizations, Grubb said, “We were able to put in a huge order from the Montana Food Bank Network, which stocked our shelves.” (See related article on Town Pump’s $1 million donate to the state’s food pantries and Montana Food Bank Network.)

“There are some very generous people and organizations that help us all year and we are grateful to everyone of them,’ she added.

Grubb reminded parents and kids that are part of the Kid Pack program, that the Kid Packs can be picked up at the Harvest Food Pantry during the regular distribution times they hold for others, on Friday from 9-10 a.m. “We are doing the same type of drive through for that program as we do for others who are picking up food from the food pantry. Just tell us you are with Kid Pack,” Grubb said.

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