HOORAY!!!!!!!! We've met our goal! Thank you to the Greater Gallatin United Way and Bozeman Area Communit Foundation for putting us over the top! Thank you Bozeman for your amazing support!
The global pandemic and ensuing school closures have laid bare a stark reality: there are many children in our valley who rely on school-provided meals as their only source of nutrition. Some of these kids are now unable to access needed food and are hungry.
With schools and businesses shuttered, many Bozeman School District (BSD) families are struggling more than ever to put food on the table. Some have lost their ability to provide food altogether. Thankfully, the BSD has partnered with the Human Resources Development Council (HRDC) to provide breakfast and lunch to school children in need through a federally-funded Meals Program. While this program is fantastic and works very well for most families, there are some families who are still unable to access these meals.
Hungry kids are not able to access the meals because meals are only available for families who can physically pick them up from designated locations, and some families are not able to do that. Due to federal guidelines, meals cannot be delivered to individual homes.
Currently, the BSD has identified 250 students who are unable to physically get to the pick-up locations to receive their food. These students are hungry: they need meals delivered to them right away.
REALLY? THIS SEEMS UNBELIEVABLE
Yes. The pandemic - and this situation in particular - have revealed worthy issues and questions, but those questions don’t help the children who are hungry NOW. The questions should be addressed - but can’t be today. Regardless of the root causes of this problem or our personal feelings about them, we cannot let kids go hungry.
A FEW DETAILS
Meals are available for pick-up at four locations (Bozeman High School, Irving School and Hyalite School on Monday, Wednesday and Friday between 11am and 1pm, in addition to the food bank daily from 1-4). Each meal package includes two lunch meals and two breakfast meals. To receive a meal package, families are required to physically go to one of the pick-up locations.
WHAT WE ASK OF YOU
We need your financial support to pay for meals for the 250 kids who are not able to access the federally-funded meal program. Our school kitchens are ready and able to prepare food for these students, and we are ready to start delivering as soon as Monday the 13th. We need your financial support to buy the food.
We know our community will not stand by and let these kids go hungry.
Our goal this weekend is to raise the necessary funds. The need is immediate.
We ask you to donate what you can and share this ask with your friends and families. This is a moment when a small donation can make a world of difference.
THE IMPACT OF YOUR DONATION
To feed 250 kids two meals a day, five days a week for the rest of the school year requires 21,000 individual meals.
Your donation of:
$3.00 will feed one student for a day
$15.00 will feed one student for a week
$126.00 will feed one student for the remainder of the school year (42 days)
$750.00 will feed all 250 students for one day
$3,750.00 will feed all 250 students for one week
$31,500.00 will feed all 250 students for the remainder of the school year (42 days)
PLEASE DONATE and please consider sharing this fundraiser on social media
FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS
Q: What is preventing BSD/HRDC from addressing this immediate need on their own?
A: When the pandemic hit, the federal government designated the Summer Meals Program as the vehicle by which families in need would receive food. Each community is allowed one Summer Meals Program, and HRDC operates the one in Bozeman. The Food Bank provides food for the summer program, but the pandemic came up quickly and they could not mobilize their resources. As a result, HRDC contracted with the Bozeman School District to prepare and distribute food instead.
HRDC can sustain its normal summer operation for one hour each day. The structure we are currently using more than doubles that normal summer output--we are now at three locations and two hours every other day (we provide two days’ worth of food every other day to limit exposure of our staff).
Schools have recently been allowed to restart the National School Lunch Program even though schools are not open. The NSLP is also a federal program with its own set of rules--including that families are charged for food based on their ability to pay. The vast majority of Bozeman families are better served with free food offered through the Summer Meals Program.
Q: Can’t exceptions to the funding rules/requirements be made given that we’re dealing with a global pandemic?
A: No. Deviating from the federal guidelines jeopardizes the future of the Summer Meals and National Lunch Programs.
Q: Other cities are using school busses to deliver meals along the usual bus route; why aren’t we doing this in Bozeman?
A: Under other federal program requirements, some communities can provide free food to all kids, regardless of income. Bozeman’s demographics simply do not qualify us to be able to do that.
This fundraising effort provides for food outside the existing federal programs. By stepping outside these programs, we can forego their strict requirements and get meals to kids who cannot otherwise access them.
Q: What happens when the school year ends? Won’t children who require meal delivery still need the service? How will that be financed?
A: HRDC's Summer Meals Program is designed to address this issue and has been effective at addressing the community's needs. The current situation is unprecedented, however, and families had no time to prepare to travel to get food.
Q: Are you working with the Bozeman Area Community Foundation or other local nonprofits/businesses/restaurants to help address this problem?
A: Yes. We are working with the Bozeman Area Community Foundation to identify potential partners who may be able to provide additional meals for our families in need. We will continue to explore options until the need is met.
Q: Can I volunteer to pick up meals at one of the distribution locations and deliver them to families as needed?
A: The federal program BSD is currently contracted to operate does not allow for delivery. If we raise the necessary independent funds to handle this need on our own, we will explore the possibility of using volunteers. However, many other districts participating in meal delivery require badged employees for home visits.
Q: Would it be helpful to donate food or individual meals?
A: The BSD has a tried and true process for making large quantities of meals at a low cost. At this time, the best way to help is to donate funds. We are looking at partnering with local restaurants to help, but in the short-term, financial donations will help us the most.
You may have other questions; we have them, too. What we do know is that our teachers and administrators are asking for help because they cannot stand by and watch their students suffer. We know firsthand that they regularly reach into their own pockets to care for our kids. We are so moved by their commitment to our children; this is a simple way we can all show up and help.