ARLEE – Gov. Steve Bullock spent time in Polson and Arlee with No Kid Hungry representatives from around the country on Tuesday, recognizing how Montana has evolved since the implementing the program in 2012.
He says solving the issue of child hunger has been one of his top priorities since he took office.
“Some great things have been happening in the state in a partnership with No Kid Hungry, and folks from Connecticut to California came to see what’s happening right here in Montana,” Bullock said.
One of the opportunities it provides is a Summer Meal Program for the tribal community, which is provided through a partnership with the Tribal Education Department.
In addition to offering a free, healthy lunch, it provides kids a chance to learn through the S.T.E.M. educational program and participate in games and other activities.
No Kids Hungry Montana poses unique challenges due to different needs within communities around the state.
“We have Americorps Vista volunteers within communities, developing community-based solutions, creating relationships with people within the community and then identifying solutions in models that are sustainable,” said Montana’s First Lady Lisa Bullock.
The proof of the success of No Kid Hungry in Montana is in the numbers. While Bullock says Montana is a long way from where he would like, the improvement in the last three years is impressive.
“It used to be about one-in-five of kids in Montana suffered with food insecurity, not knowing where they were going to get there next meal. Through a whole bunch of good work, it’s down to about one-in-six,” Bullock said.
He added that statistics show that well-fed students are more engaged and do better in school. The goal is continued improvement in years to come.
Bullock is proud of the fact that people from around the country are taking notice of the progress Montana has made since the program’s implementation.
Reporting by Russ Thomas for MTN News