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Volunteers Don and Roxann Monroe and Cynthia Culver have been busy stocking the shelves of the Valier Food Pantry, which is located in the First Baptist Church, 725 Montana Street. Donations of non-perishable food items are welcome. The food pantry is open the first and third Mondays of the month, from 9-11 a.m.

The Valier Food Pantry is up and running and organizers are hoping to make using the food pantry a very simple process with the goal of providing a “client choice pantry” that provides seven days of food for those utilizing it. Located in the First Baptist Church, the Valier Food Pantry is open on the first and third Mondays of each month, from 9-11 a.m. The church is located at 725 Montana Street.

The Valier Food Pantry was established to fill a noticeable void in the community. “No other entity in town meets the hunger need,” said Cynthia Culver, one of the organizers. The nearest food pantry is in Conrad, some 24 miles away.

The application to use the services, which is open to anyone 18 and older, is simple and very basic. The application form is based on a modified version of the MFBN application. In addition to the completed application, those who wish to utilize the services of the food pantry must have some sort of ID. In addition to a driver’s license or other official ID card, items that could be used include postmarked mail, hunting/fishing license–anything that verifies residency.

How many individuals and families do organizers anticipate serving?

According to the 2010 U.S. Census, Pondera County has a 17.7 percent poverty rate, said Cynthia. The Town of Valier’s 2017 population was listed as 492 people residing within city limits. Based on these numbers organizers estimate a local hunger need of roughly 87 individuals annually.

“One informational resource that we have found estimates that churches can generally anticipate meeting 10 percent of local need. We figure that since we are one of four active local churches, in addition to the senior center’s meal and commodities program, it is reasonable to presume we might set our goal along the lines of meeting 20 percent of the need,” explained Culver. This calculation reflects an annual food expense of nearly $900. 

“We anticipate meeting this expense by utilizing 60% of our annual budget and meeting the other 40% through designated donations,” she added.

Anyone who would like to help with monetary donations may do so by making their checks payable to First Baptist Church and noting in the memo line “For Food Pantry.” Donations may be left at the church or mailed to First Baptist Church, P.O. Box 141, Valier, MT 59486.

Donations of food are also encouraged and may be left at the church during regular ministry hours or by calling 279-3211 to arrange drop-off of items. Organizers, which include Roxann and Don Monroe, ask that items donated do not exceed the expiration date beyond one year. 

Items that are always needed and welcome include:

•Basic baking supplies (i.e., flour, sugar, vegetable oil, salt, baking soda, baking powder, evaporated milk, sweetened condensed milk, boxed mixes, etc.)

•Boxed cereals, Pop Tarts, or breakfast bars

•Drink mixes (i.e., Kool-Aid, Crystal Light, etc.) or bottled drinks (non-alcoholic) 

•Coffee, teas, creamer, etc.

•Dinner meal kits (i.e., Hamburger or Tuna Helper)

•Canned goods (i.e., vegetables, fruits, or meals items like stew, chili, Chef Boyardee)

•Hygiene items (i.e., toilet paper, toothpaste, soap, shampoo, laundry detergent, dish soap, paper towels, etc.)

•Baby items (i.e., food, formulas, diapers, wipes, etc.)

•Butter, eggs, cheese, baked goods, etc. (refrigerated items)

•Meats (frozen or canned)

•Seasonings

•Pet food

•Anything not listed above that you enjoy!

Also, since space is limited, donations of fresh produce or perishable items cannot be accepted at this time.

For food emergency requests, please call 289-0721 or leave a message at 279-3211.

“We would love to have volunteers join our food pantry efforts,” said Roxann. “There will be regular pantry hours as well as donation and delivery times. We will need help stocking, cleaning and maintaining our space to meet the partnership requirements for the Montana Food Bank Network,” Don explained. If you would like to help, please call either of the numbers listed above.

The Monroes has been overwhelmed by the assistance they’ve received in getting the food pantry off up and running. 

“Helen Stordahl with Pondera Food Pantry graciously came and helped us the first day we were open. She brought up two cases of peanut butter from Gary & Leo’s IGA,” said Cynthia. Food collected from the United States Postal Service’s annual food drive in Valier earlier this month also went to the Valier Food Pantry. 

The Valier Area Development Corporation is also helping by asking runners and walkers in the Homesteader Hustle Fun Run to donate canned food items for the food pantry. 

Pastor Steve Culver concluded, “Our mission is to meet a portion of this basic need in the community and surrounding area. That’s what the Lord has called His church to do. We simply answered that call. It’s just that simple.”

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