MISSOULA, Mont. - Days before its holiday drive ends, the Missoula Food Bank announced it reached its goal of $300,000, and they're continuing to push until the new year.
This is the highest goal the food bank has set for its holiday drive.
According to Aaron Brock, the executive director, they increased their goal because the need remains high amid the pandemic. From January to October in 2021, the food bank reports serving over 32,000 people.
Brock said between 2019 and 2020, the food bank's client load increased by about 20%.
While there hasn't been another jump like that in 2021, Brock said the need also hasn't decreased.
According to the food bank, people on fixed incomes, like seniors or those living with disabilities, are in greater need as the cost of living rises.
Brock said he's gracious to have already met the goal. Now they're going to keep pushing to serve the community even better.
“We always have good food on our shelves, but what we’re really able to do when we exceed that goal is invest in quality, so more fresh foods," Brock said. "It’s not to say our food isn’t high quality anyway but that’s where that additional money goes and that’s where we see that impact.”
The holiday drive is the largest fundraiser of the year and funds more than 10% of the food bank's yearly budget.
It's also the food bank's busiest time of year as people experience more expenses like higher utility costs, the need for winter clothes and other seasonal expenses.
Looking ahead to the new year, Brock said the food bank is working to expand its school programs and is also working to buy more local foods, getting fresher foods on shelves and also boosting the local economy.
The holiday donation drive runs through December 31.