By Angel Wyrwas
Despite strong reports from Wall Street and news of low unemployment, families are struggling to get by throughout Fallon County, as well as throughout the country. One in eight Americans – 42 million people – still struggle to get enough to eat. And while that number has been going down recently, hunger appears to be getting worse in some economically distressed areas, especially in rural communities.
It’s a subject that is hard to think about. Many of these families have two working adults in the home and just don’t have enough to make it between paychecks without the cupboards getting bare. Sometimes it’s a disability or serious health problem that suddenly changes the family finances or the death of the sole provider that necessitates temporary assistance. Or sometimes it’s a single parent trying to provide for their children. Whatever the circumstance, for some, the choice between making the rent and buying groceries is rarely that far away.
The local donations to the Community Cupboard have made the difference between full stomachs or their families going hungry. “One thing that I have always found very special about our food cupboard in Fallon County is that it is solely supported by the generosity of our community,” said Angel Wyrwas, Co-coordinator for the Community Cupboard. “This means that people don’t have to fill out a bunch of forms verifying their income to receive food. No state or federal program is tracking their information.”
“It’s very simple to receive a food box,” continued Angel. “People just call the Baker Senior Center at 406-778-2600 to request a food box and set up a time to pick up their supplies. We ask them to sign our book so we can track how much the Cupboard is being used and if needs are greater at certain times of the year.”
The Cupboard tries to provide food appropriate for the living arrangements of those who rely on it. For instance, people living in hotels and rooming houses often only have a microwave, so they rely on prepared food. Not everyone knows how to cook so they rely on easier dishes like Hamburger Helper. Shelf stable foods like canned goods are used by most individuals.
The cupboard receives regular donations from individuals and organizations. Some give food while others give money. “Both types of donations make our Community Cupboard the helpful place that it needs to be,” said Angel. “We have never had to turn someone away.”
This is the giving season when the Cupboard receives many of its donations for the year. “We are amazed and grateful for this community’s generous spirit. People are always asking what the Cupboard can use the most,” said Angel. The Cupboard can always use canned foods including soups, vegetables and fruits, especially canned carrots and potatoes and assorted canned fruits or jars of applesauce. Pasta sauces, seasoning packets, boxes of instant potatoes and side dish packets (like noodles and rice) are always welcomed.
Donations of meat, frozen or canned, is also extremely important for the health of our Cupboard. SNAP, Montana’s food assistance program, doesn’t cover nonfood items that families also need such as laundry detergent, dish soap, bath products and paper products so those donations are appreciated and used up quickly. “Once in awhile we will get a donation of cereal or bags of chips,” said Angel, “and while nourishing our community is first and foremost, it is nice to be able to put a little treat in each food box.”