MTCC VISTAs Address Food Insecurity for 9/11 Service Project

September 15, 2019

Montana Campus Compact sanctioned service project for National Day of Service on September 11th of 2019 involved two separate events that centered around food insecurity. The first event occurred at the Missoula Food Bank and Community Center. Eight MTCC VISTAs arrived at the Missoula Food Bank at 9am to work on two different projects. These VISTAs include: Paxton McCausland, Joe Wagner, Bri Howerton, Renee Goodenow, Clara Moser, Jensen Lillquist, Liv Mays, and Sarah Poole. Half of the volunteers helped repackage dried plums to be placed in the grocery store section of the food bank. The other group of VISTAs helped the food bank prepare for another project by opening and organizing products. Before the four hours of volunteering was finished at the food bank Ashlee Schleicher, the food bank associate, gave all of the volunteers of the food bank and explained how the facility operates. This event was organized by MTCC VISTA Leader Paxton McCausland.

After a short lunch break the volunteers reconvened at the Davidson Honors College on the University of Montana campus. This event, organized by University of Montana Food Pantry VISTA, Sarah Poole, was prepared for a week in advance. On September 5th Sarah Poole, Liv Mays and Paxton McCausland, along with the help of the Neighborhood Ambassadors, set up paper bags on the porches of houses surrounding the university, as well as distributed collection baskets to key locations on campus, such as the library and university center, and within resident halls.

As before the volunteers split into two groups. The first group collected the now-full paper bags from the porches of houses surrounding the university, while the other group picked up the baskets of donations scattered around campus. Once these donations had all been collected they were brought by the two groups to the university food pantry. After analysis of the items collected, it has been determined that this food drive leveraged 137 pounds of food, the equivalent of $236. The portion of the project completed on the National Day of Service took around two hours to accomplish. It is estimated that a total of two to three more hours were spent organizing this event before September 11th, 2019.

Both of these projects addressed the issue of food insecurity in Missoula. While the University of Montana Food Pantry typically provides food and resources to university students, there are no conditions to who may benefit from the pantry. Likewise, the Missoula Food Bank and Community Center is a resource open to anyone in the public, including students and community members. The main population that was affected by this service project is low-income community members of Missoula and the surrounding areas.