Governor Steve Bullock and First Lady Lisa Bullock today announced that a total of $72,710 in private grant funding has been awarded to 14 organizations across Montana to serve Summer Meal Programs through an ongoing partnership with Montana No Kid Hungry.
“Communities across Montana are working hard to increase the number of kids who have access to meals during the summer break, and as a result, we are making sure that more kids have the food they need 365 days a year,” said Governor Bullock. “This is good for Montana’s kids and families, our economy, and our state’s future.”
Each year, more Montana communities confront the food access and programming gap that exists for kids during summer break, and fill the need with summer meals. Currently, 71% of Montana counties operate at least one summer meal site for a total of 239 sites throughout the state.
“Summer is all about having fun with your friends, and every child deserves to have that experience,” said First Lady Bullock. “Summer meals bring people together and become the backbone of the local community, all while giving kids an opportunity to eat a quality meal and make those magical memories.”
Grant funds are used by the recipient organizations to make the Summer Food Service Program operable by purchasing equipment or providing stipends for staff, and to make the experience fun for children who attend. Each summer meal site is tailored to the community and the kids, and activities are offered alongside the food at most summer meal sites, with volunteers leading kids in crafts, sports games, gardening, and more.
Grants are offered by Montana No Kid Hungry, which is housed under the Department of Public Health and Human Services. Funding for summer meal grants is made possible through support from private donors, including Dennis and Phyllis Washington Foundation, BNSF Railway, Walmart, Inc., Round It Up Montana (a partnership between the MT Restaurant and Retail Associations, Prostart, and No Kid Hungry), New York Life Insurance Company, OP & WE Edwards Foundation, and Magellan Cares Foundation. The Summer Food Service Program is administered by the Office of Public Instruction and the cost of food is reimbursed to the operating organization through federal funds.
The 14 organizations that received summer meal grants during this cycle include:
- Boys & Girls Club of Richland County, Sidney, $15,850
- Kalispell Public Schools, Kalispell, $19,750
- Missoula Food Bank, Missoula, $20,200
- Action Inc, Butte, $3,000
- Boulder Elementary School District, Boulder, $3,000
- Dillon School District, Dillon, $1,200
- Dodson Public Schools, Dodson, $500
- Florence-Carlton School District 15-6, Florence, $1,400
- Harlowton Public Schools, Harlowton, $500
- Havre Public Schools, Havre, $2,360
- Helena School District, Helena, $1,000
- Human Resource Development Council, Bozeman, $1,450
- Laurel School District, Laurel, $1,500
- Ravalli County District #9, Darby, $1,000
Through a partnership with Governor Bullock and First Lady Bullock, the Department of Public Health and Human Services (DPHHS), Office of Public Instruction (OPI), Montana Food Bank Network, and the national non-profit organization Share Our Strength, Montana No Kid Hungry has worked to increase the number of summer meal sites in Montana.
In 2017, 50 new sites were added, existing sites increased operating days by 7%, and a total of 632,654 meals were served. Sites are located in schools, parks, churches, libraries, YMCAs/YWCAs, Boys and Girls Clubs, and community centers. Families can find sites nearest to them by visiting https://www.fns.usda.gov/summerfoodrocks or texting “Food” to 877-877.
This year, Helena, Kalispell, Missoula, and Sidney are launching mobile Summer Food Trucks to reach even more kids. Food trucks help to address transportation issues in areas where children lack means of transportation to fixed sites and help to boost summer meal participation. Currently there are 8 Summer Food Trucks operating throughout Montana.
Organizations can apply for funding online through the Montana No Kid Hungry grant portal, with opportunities available once per year in January through April. Anyone interested in starting a new Summer Meal Program, launching a Summer Food Truck, improving an existing program, or for questions about upcoming grant opportunities, contact Danielle Anderson at DAnderson3@mt.gov or by phone at 406-765-3430.