Hunger in the Flathead Valley is becoming an increasingly alarming and detrimental factor in the development and well-being of children, adults, and seniors in our community.
In the few years prior to the pandemic brought about by COVID-19, Flathead County and much of Northwestern Montana began to see a steady and encouraging decline in rates of food insecurity in both children and adults.
In 2018, Feeding America reported that 9.7% of individuals in Flathead County, over 9,500 residents, struggled with food insecurity.
By 2019, Feeding America reported that number had fallen slightly to 9.2% of Flathead County’s population.
COVID-19 and Hunger in the Flathead Valley
While data is still being recorded and compiled over two years after the beginning of the global pandemic in 2020, we know that economic uncertainty drastically increased food insecurity rates in our community and around the world. Demand for the Flathead Food Bank’s services skyrocketed almost simultaneously with unemployment and food insecurity rates.
The Flathead Food Bank distributed over 3,400,000 pounds of food in 2020, more than double the 1,600,000 pounds distributed in 2019.
Over 78,000 individuals made use of the Flathead Food Bank’s programs in 2020, compared to the roughly 57,000 recorded individuals served in 2019.
Where Are We Headed?
With unprecedented community support during some the most uncertain times for many of our clients, the Flathead Food Bank has been able to meet the need for increased capacity to provide food and supplies for those in need during the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. However, Thousands of children, families, and seniors still struggle with food insecurity and its unforeseen consequences.
Food Insecurity in 2021
Many lasting repercussions from the global pandemic are still being felt across our communities today. Inflation, unemployment, economic uncertainty, and an increasingly competitive housing market threaten the food security of our neighbors here in the Flathead Valley. We can all play a role in contributing to efforts to feed families in need.