In Bozeman and beyond, school lunch staff are working hard to make lunches available for all kids, even if they aren’t students.
But some families found a hurdle: if they can’t drive in to pick it up, what then?
The community rallied, making it all possible with donations in under 40 hours.
Around 7,000 students call Bozeman Public Schools their center of education.
The schools are doing what they can to set up at least four different drop off points for lunches so students and parents can come and pick up their lunch.
But for those who can't drive in, the school has seen that and is addressing it.
It started with a Bozeman School Foundation fundraiser on GoFundMe.
"It was truly a blessing to have this fundraiser happen over Easter weekend,” says Bob Connors, Bozeman schools superintendent.
To Connors, empty halls means thousands of students without meals they used to rely on.
"HRDC generally runs the summer food program for our town and right now that's the mechanism we used to give the lunches out to the kids,” Connors says. “This program is limited by Bozeman High, Irving and then we opened up Hyalite yesterday as another pickup point."
Along with the Gallatin Valley Food Bank, that makes four pick-up points.
"You're not allowed to move those because of the restrictions that the guidelines come from. So to make this work, and realizing it's not a Bozeman School District program is, somebody has to buy the lunches so we can get them to the other schools,” Connors says. "Our lunch program right now is a government program. It is not a Bozeman School District program."
250 kids, according to the Bozeman School Foundation, could not physically make it to stops like this one.
"An idea was born,” Connors says. "By the time we got around to discussing it on Monday, it was $31,611 in."
All donated in a single day, by (maybe not so coincidentally) 250 people.
"It was just an unbelievable outpouring from Bozeman,” Connors says. “We don't want to leave anybody behind and it really plays into that hashtag of ‘One Bozeman.’"
This opens the door for the schools to deliver lunches to each student for the last 42 days that they would have spent inside empty halls, showing how the light is growing faster than any darkness.
"It doesn't amaze me that Montana people have those hearts,” Connors says. “What amazes me is the speed that it happened.”
Connors does add that this is an emergency service, not a replacement one.
If anyone can make it to the four drop off points, they should do so before calling HRDC about this one.
"We would prefer for this to be emergency only so that the kids and the people that really need this service are afforded that opportunity and so we don't run out of those funds,” Connor says.