HELENA — Helena Food Share is working to ensure every child has enough food during the COVID-19 pandemic. To reach that goal, the food pantry has made some updates to their Kid Pack program.
Due to COVID, the Helena School District is only holding in-person classes a couple days each week.
Kid Packs containing non perishable food will be delivered to the schools early in the week. That way school staff are able to distribute to every student that needs them no matter which days the child is attending.
“For kids that are online learning only, they’ll be able to pick up their Kid Packs when they get their school foods,” said Helena Food Share Executive Director Bruce Day.
Last year the Kid Pack program serviced more than 1,000 students a week, and more kids may need the program.
Helena Food Share has seen an increase in families needing food as a result of the pandemic.
Day believes that trend will unfortunately continue as long as the pandemic continues.
“Right now we’re averaging 70 households a day coming to get assistance,” Day said. “All in all we’re putting out a lot more food than a year ago and the previous year. We’ve always talked about pounds of food, but it’s really high and we’re looking at tons of foods.”
Day says right now Helena Food Share just doesn’t have the space to accommodate the Kid Pack program out of their warehouse.
Our Redeemer's Lutheran Church has offered their space to store and assemble the Kid Packs.
“They’ve been gracious enough to allow us to use one of their big rooms to be able to do that, and have been able to provide some volunteers,” said Day.
In previous years businesses and organizations would volunteer to assemble the Kid Packs with their staff.
Day says that’s just not an option this year.
“A lot of businesses would volunteer to assemble on a week to week basis, and that just isn’t happening this year because of the safety protocols,” said Day.
Volunteers at Helena Food Share are always needed, and individuals interested are asked to reach out if they’re interested.
Day says the best way people can help right now is by making a financial donation so they can purchase the food desperately needed by many in the community.
“We’re not doing any food drives this fall. We’re just aren’t able to do that because of the amount of person to person contact it takes to receive the food, have a group of volunteers to sort it and repackage and distribute it,” explained Day. “So the best thing we can do is purchase food.”
People can make a donation and learn more about all of the services Helena Food Share Provides on their website.