Dennis Knickerbocker, left, Hans and Jamie Dewitt are working hard to make sure no one goes hungry by offering delivery and drive-thru service at the Sagebrush Food Pantry. If you are in need of food please give Sagebrush Food Pantry at call at (406) 460-1131.

A lot of people in the community have been out of work now for weeks due to Governor Bullock’s stay at home directive and while those deemed “essential” have still been working many are working reduced hours or are bringing in less money due to the circumstances. With a decrease in income for so many there has been a definite increase in the number of residents utilizing the Sagebrush Food Pantry.

“We have seen about a 40 percent increase,” said director Elisha Dempsey. “We’re doing it drive-through style. They call, stay in their car, we pack a box with food and bring it out to them.”

Not only has there been an increase in the number of folks needing food, but donations have also increased with community members stepping up and donating what they can to help out. The pantry offers perishable food items- produce, milk, yogurt, bread- weekly, and canned goods once a month. While donations have still been coming in there is always room for more.

“Right now we need meat, cereal and soup,” said Dempsey. “We currently have bananas, oranges, apples, pears and tomatoes.”

Donations are being taken the same way as the food is being given out, drive-through style. Anyone wishing to donate to the Sagebrush Food Pantry can do so by calling (406) 460-1131, or it can be dropped off Monday through Thursday, between 4 and 6 p.m. 

Currently the Sagebrush Food Pantry is having a fundraising challenge. They are trying to match a grant for $750.

“If 15 people donated $50 we could match the grant,” said Dempsey. “That would help buy produce and meat to keep our community healthy!”

Donations can be accepted at First State Bank or you can mail a check to Sagebrush Food Pantry, P.O. Box 393, Shelby, MT 59474.

The food pantry is run strictly by volunteers, all who express their appreciation for those who have already donated monetarily, food or their time. Delivering drivers, Matt Seubert and Deputy Andrew, are appreciated for their service, as is Dennis Knickerbocker for picking up food donations, sometimes three times a day. Heidi at Albertsons has been instrumental in continually coordinating the various departments that give supplies to keep the shelves stocked and Mr. and Mrs. Cliff and Renee Leslie, who have been the glue that has kept the pantry going for over 15 years!

Residents also have the option of the food pantry located at the First Baptist Church. The pantry is stocked by generous members of the congregation and some outside donations. While there are no set hours anyone in need can receive assistance by calling the church office at (406) 434-5383, leave a message if no answer, or by email, fbcshelby@3rivers.net

The Shelby FFA student food pantry is also an option. Advisor Thad White shared that they do “have to tread lightly when we invite the community into the school right now,” but has been in touch with his students via email in regards to if they are in need or know of anyone in need. 

“Unofficially it’s open from 9 a.m. to 12 p.m. on the days we were scheduled to be in school,” said White. “That’s when I’ve been telling the kids to stop in.” 

If anyone would like to donate, or knows someone in need, you are encouraged to contact White via email at thad.white@shelby.k12.mt.us

COVID-19 has hit Shelby and Toole County harder per capita than other places throughout the state. While trying to stop the spread is ongoing, so is the support of the community. If you have extra and would like to donate please contact the food pantry of your choice. If you, or someone you know, is in need of food please reach out. We are all in this together.

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