IGA to launch new project to help meet greater need

Thursday, November 17, 2022
IGA to launch new project to help meet greater need

Columbus IGA Plus and Stillwater Family Pharmacy has a collection box for Project Hope year round. The store will step up its effort next week with a larger collection area showcased in the front window area. (SCN photo by Marlo Pronovost)

Starting next week, Columbus IGA Plus and the Stillwater Family Pharmacy will be teaming up with Project Hope to help residents help their neighbors.

From Nov. 25 and until Dec. 18, a large collection area at the front of the store will feature a “Reverse Advent Calendar” that will include a “Food Item of the Day” each day. Featured items will include the likes of cereal, peanut butter, canned fruit, crackers and tuna, to name just a few.

“We know that this year has been a tough year on many of the families in our community and the IGA Family has come up with something we are going to try to do to help those in need,” IGA’s Rebekah Matovich told the News.

All items collected will be delivered to Project Hope on Monday, Dec. 19.

A GREATER NEED THIS YEAR

As of this week, Project Hope had 100 families signed up to receive Thanksgiving boxes, which is higher than normal, said Project Hope Executive Director Lara Strickland.

“I put in a last-minute order for some extra turkeys today just to be safe,” said Strickland.

The increase in needs this year is being attributed the jump in inflation and some reductions in state programs.

“Cuts to SNAP benefits were the first culprit in our food bank numbers rising, and the pace has only picked up with the cost of inflation,” said Strickland.

SPECIFIC NEEDS

As for specific needs, Strickland said protein is high on the list. Project Hope goes through approximately 250 pounds of ground beef and wild game each month. Donations of this type must be processed in a USDA facility and are highly appreciated.

“Protein is so expensive that any shelf-stable items are wonderful — nut butters, beans, canned tuna and chicken. We are distributing a lot of food these days so anything is very useful and appreciated — canned soups, veggies and fruits, and tomato products are also staples in our food bank,” said Strickland.

HELP FROM TOWN PUMP

The Town Pump Charitable Foundation is matching $1 million to help raise $4 million during its annual fundraising campaign for food banks, including Project Hope.

More than 100 food banks statewide are participating this year in the “Be A Friend in Deed” campaign, which began in 2001. The campaign has raised more than $44 million for Montana food banks in 20 years, including about $9 million in matching grants from the Town Pump Charitable Foundation.

Organizers of the campaign, which runs through Nov. 30, hope to raise $4 million for the food banks this year.

Locally, the foundation is matching up to $9,000 for Project Hope. All funds raised in the community stay in the community, according to a press release from the Town Pump Charitable Foundation.

The money is frequently used to purchase perishable food items such as milk, bread, fruit and vegetables. Also, the funds are becoming more crucial in helping many food bank organizations simply stay open through payment of rent, utilities, and space for storage, refrigeration and freezing.

“Rising costs of groceries and other household items is pushing more families than ever before to our local food banks,” said Town Pump Charitable Foundation’s Bill McGladdery. “Please join Town Pump and our dedicated food bank partners in making a difference in the lives of our hungry neighbors by donating today at our businesses or directly to the food banks. Food insecurity can happen to anyone.”

Donations can be made at local Town Pumps, Lucky Lil’s and the Super 8 Motel, or they can be made by mail to Project Hope, P.O. Box 1443, Columbus, MT 59019.