GREAT FALLS — The Alliance For Youth in Great Falls is expanding its services. For more than two years, the agency has been working on creating a kitchen to provide hot meals for under-privileged youth. That kitchen is finally set to open sometime in January, pending a stamp of approval from the city.
Kristy Pontet-Stroop, director of Alliance For Youth, is incredibly proud of the progress made.
“I would say cheerleader kicks at the end, we were just ecstatic. There were tears by the time it was over, too, because it’s been a two-and-a-half year journey,” she says.
The new kitchen space features an oven, two stovetops, a grill, a bread-warmer, sinks, an industrial dishwasher, a refrigeration and freezing unit, various pots and pans, dishes, and pantry spaces.
“What this allows us to do is to up the amount of food we serve and the number of people we serve,” says director of development Thomas Risberg.
Upping the capacity at which food can be served as long been a priority for the Alliance, who have seen rising totals in the number of homeless and displaced children.
“There are staggering high numbers of children that come through and are hungry and need support. This year we are already facing 471 students that are experiencing homelessness in Great Falls,” says Pontet-Stroop.
Prior to now being able to facilitate and serve their own meals, the Alliance for Youth had been operating with some local assistance for which Kristy is extremely grateful for.
“We had been operating with the graciousness of local restaurants providing these meals so we can give a hot meal to children in need,” she says.
Though they can now make their own food Kristy says they will still be reliant on generous donations from the community.
"What this gives us is a platform. We as a community can feed vulnerable youth and families. I think it's an opportunity to come together and to serve those that that are in need and we are ready to start rolling,” says Risberg.
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