Mineral Community Hospital’s mission statement is “to improve the health and quality of life of our community” and their annual food drive is a step in that direction according to Monte Turner who helps to organize the annual event.
In year’s past the drive has gathered over 5,000 pounds of food for Mineral County food pantry’s, as well as thousands of dollars to help those neighbors in need. Also, cash donations will be matched up to $5,000 by Town Pump/Lucky Lil’s which is located in Superior. Their headquarters in Butte will match dollar for dollar and turn $5,000 into a $10,000 contribution to county communities where each dollar represents 3.6 pounds of food according to the Montana Food Bank Network. That portion of the drive will end on November 29. However, non-perishable food items will be accepted until December 31.
Drop-off locations can be found throughout the county at Alberton Feed & Supply, St Regis Senior Center, Stang’s Market, Wells Fargo Bank, Superior Senior Center, S & S Foods, Castles Market and the hospital lobby. Donations stay in the county and stock the shelves of the Mineral County Food Bank located in Superior, the Alberton Food Pantry and the Superior School Food Pantry.
Food items can include canned meats and vegetables, soups, pasts, rice, beans, flour, sugar, coffee and other non-perishables. The Superior School Food Pantry also has a kid’s crockpot program where student receive a slow-cooker to prepare meal for their families. Items received can be used for that program which include homemade soups, stews and casseroles.
“We see firsthand too many patients that are just getting by,” said Turner. “As well as some families, even large families. We also see elderly people on fixed incomes with no family or friends to help and they are struggling. One of the basic staples of life is food and so we feel this is what we not only do for our community but what we want to do for our community.”
The poverty rate in Mineral County is estimated to be 17.2 percent, according to a 2015 U.S. Census report, down from 18.4 percent reported in 2013. According to the Montana Food Network there are number of factors that can contribute to the need for assistance with food, including having to pay for other necessities such as rent, fuel, utilities and medical needs instead of food.
Senior citizens are most likely to visit food pantry’s on a regular basis. But young populations are also vulnerable to hunger and in Mineral County 69.8 percent of school-aged children qualified for free and reduced school lunches according to a Montana State University Extension office report.