DEER LODGE — A veteran in Deer Lodge who runs a food pantry for veterans got a surprise on Tuesday of free cheese from the Cheese Brothers of Wisconsin, who heard his story and are now going to provide him with free cheese to give out to veterans.
“We kind of have a saying around here, ‘never saw that coming,’ because so many things happen and it’s just incredible what happens,” said SW Montana Veterans Food Pantry and Services co-founder Jay Wood.
What Jay didn’t see coming was being selected as the winner of the Cheese Brothers’ Veterans Day Giveaway for free cheese made by the Barron, Wisconsin-based company.
“I couldn’t get over it. Especially hearing from these guys the amount of people I was picked from—just humble that so many people keep telling me what I’m doing, it’s a big thing and to me, I feel like just a little guy doing a little thing,” said Wood.
More than 1,000 nominations were submitted for this year’s contest and the company’s president and co-founder Eric Lundy said they were moved by a veteran serving fellow veterans in need. Lundy said he saw the need as soon as he landed in Montana.
“We saw people on the street in Missoula, signs that said they were Marine Corps vets standing on the street corner. It’s a tragedy, it’s a travesty,” said Lundy.
Jay started the pantry with his wife Susan in December of 2021 and has expanded their operation since then.
“We have a heart for veterans, I mean, we just love our veterans, and a lot of veterans will not go to a regular food pantry because they’re very humble, they don’t want to take food away from somebody else,” said the pantry’s co-founder Susan Wood.
The Southwest Montana Veterans Food Pantry and Services founders say it’s a labor of love to help veterans.
“Last year, so many vets came in and told me they look at me as their Santa Claus,” said Jay Wood.