“How are you folks doing down at the food bank?”
That’s a question I and my co-workers who volunteer at Haven House Food Pantry in Hamilton get asked a lot. My typical answer is “We’re doing very well, thank you!” Of course, the correct answer is a bit more complicated.
On the bright side, we continue to meet the needs of our more than 1200 registered families by providing them with food to last 3 to 5 days every month. They can supplement this with a visit to Haven House every week for surplus meat, produce, bakery products and other surplus items we have. Also on the bright side, we are blessed with the greatest donors in the country in our county residents and businesses. They are the true life blood of our food pantry and without them we could not provide the food we do. Our number of clients continues to grow steadily at about 2% per year (about 20 new families every year) and unlike many parts of the country where food pantries are having trouble meeting needs, donations here have kept pace with our growth. We in Ravalli County are truly blessed. We also have a great all-volunteer staff to help meet those needs.
There is a not-so-bright side to all this, however. And that is that the number of families that need food assistance continues to grow each year. The reasons for this are many and complex, well beyond the ability of our small food pantry to fix. What we do, and we believe do very well, is give people a hand when they reach a rough spot in life. Sometimes a little boost is all people need. One of the most satisfying times is when an ex-client comes in and says “I had a tough time feeding my family and you folks helped me through those times. Now I want to give back!” as they make a donation! I wish we could help that happen more often.
The end-of-year holiday season is our busy time and it‘s pretty hectic. Right now is the time of year we regroup and review how we have done. That is pretty easy to do and always looks pretty good. What is hard for us to do is look into our crystal ball and predict the future. We want to be prepared for continued growth while we also pray that things can improve for our clients so they no longer need us. What a wonderful change it would be to see our numbers of clients start to decrease because they no longer need our services. We hope for the best.
“Thank You!” to all of the businesses and people who support Haven House and the other food pantries in the county. Without you we simply could not exist. You are the best.
Larry Pittack, Board President
Haven House Food Pantry