HELENA — According to the Lewis and Clark County Community Health report, 13% of Lewis and Clark County residents had faced food insecurity in 2021.
That need placed a high demand on organizations like the Helena Food Share.
"2021 has been an interesting year because we've had to continue to make shifts, based on the services we're providing to people because of COVID, so it's been a somewhat challenging year in that regard," said Bruce Day, Helena Food Share executive director.
Days one area they have seen increased need is in the emergency food packs.
The emergency food packs are ready-to-eat options for those with no means of preparing meals. Day says they have provided 400 emergency food packs in 2021.
"I'm going to say more than four times the amount that we were providing a couple of years ago and double what we're providing at the beginning of the year."
But the number of individuals coming in for food has remained steady.
Day says, "We're definitely seeing a rise in an increase in the number of households that are coming here to get food."
The Helena Food Share gave out just under 2,000 meal boxes during the holiday season.
He credits the community and volunteers for helping meet the needs at a critical time for families.
"We have a really wonderful pool of volunteers that have helped us throughout 2021, and we're just really grateful for that kind of support that people are willing to, you know, help make this possible, you know to for us to open our doors and to provide food for people when they need it," said Day.
MTN News dug into the 2021 Community Health Report to learn more about the food insecurity challenges facing Lewis and Clark County residents.
The report found that the highest concentration of households served by the food share is near downtown, including the Upper and Lower West Side and the South-Central and Sixth Ward neighborhoods.
In 2021 approximately 2 percent of high school students in the county said they went hungry most of the time or always because there was not enough food in the home, and 15 percent of households had difficulty buying fresh produce.