Montana Food Bank Network wins Mary Ruth Herbers SNAP Outreach Award
Feeding America, the nation’s largest domestic hunger-relief organization, presented the Montana Food Bank Network (MFBN) with the Mary Ruth Herbers SNAP Outreach Award at a SNAP Capacity Institute convening in Washington, D.C. last week. The award recognizes Feeding America network member food banks that are pioneering new concepts or revolutionizing their outreach programs to enhance services to their communities.
Over the last year, MFBN has worked to establish trained SNAP agencies in new counties, specifically in more rural areas of the state. This focus is in response to the state of Montana closing half of the Offices of Public Assistance in the state, all of which were in rural counties, resulting in people in those communities having limited access to in-person SNAP assistance.
“Our goal has been to first increase the level of outreach happening in these areas to ensure that families and individuals know about our SNAP hotline,” said Elizabeth Weaver, MFBN’s SNAP outreach coordinator. “In addition, we are seeking partners who are located in hard-hit communities who are willing to incorporate application assistance into the services they already provide.
MFBN’s program model relies on engaging and training partner agencies, such as food pantries and meal programs, in SNAP outreach and application assistance. In order to reach a wider audience, MFBN is also working with nontraditional partners like farmers markets, school-based program, legal services and others to distribute information. To date, MFBN has 22 agencies participating in SNAP Application Assistance across the state and has trained an additional 40 agencies on assistance and outreach.
In an effort to strengthen the partner agencies outreach efforts, MFBN has also provided mini tech grants to partners. These grants are used to purchase equipment needed for outreach in the field, including laptops, scanners and fax machines.
“The Montana Food Bank Network is very attuned to the needs of their communities and underserved populations,” said Ami McReynolds, chief equity and program officer at Feeding America. “In the face of tough challenges at the state level, MFBN has kept the people they serve front and center while employing a sound strategy to overcome those challenges.”
MFBN believes that everyone should have access to emergency food assistance in their time of need – no matter what. Currently 1 in 9 Montanans are struggling with hunger and food insecurity. MFBN acquires low cost, high quality food to guarantee its network of over 280 partners have food to provide when clients walk through their doors. Every month their network serves meals and provides food to more than 113,000 Montanans.
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About Feeding America
Feeding America® is the largest hunger-relief organization in the United States. Through a network of 200 food banks and 60,000 food pantries and meal programs, we provide meals to more than 40 million people each year. Feeding America also supports programs that prevent food waste and improve food security among the people we serve; educates the public about the problem of hunger; and advocates for legislation that protects people from going hungry. Visit www.feedingamerica.org, find us on Facebook or follow us on Twitter.