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Passing gratitude around the Thanksgiving table

by Daily Inter Lake
| November 23, 2023 12:00 AM

Thanksgiving is a time for family and friends to gather together.

Not everyone has the means to provide a Thanksgiving feast for the dinner table. Because of that we want to take the time to thank local food banks, the volunteers who help out and the community members who provide donations to keep those pantries stocked. 

The Flathead Food Bank provided bags of food — turkeys, hams, potatoes and the like — to more than 825 families before the holiday. 

And they’re not alone. 

The Northwest Montana Veterans Food Pantry gave out boxes stuffed with Thanksgiving fixings to about 90 veterans and their families. Cinnamon Davis-Hall, community outreach specialist for the pantry, said those served by the pantry run the gamut but many are either homeless or are one missed check away from homelessness, while some need assistance to serve extended family at the table this time of year. 

“Everybody should have a holiday dinner,” Davis-Hall said.

The North Valley Food Bank provided holiday food for more than 550 families through its distribution day in Whitefish and at its mobile pantry sites in Trego and Olney. 

In 2022, the food bank saw an 80% increase during its Thanksgiving distribution, and overall this year has seen a 25% increase in food bank visits compared to last year, notes Executive Director Sophie Albert. To serve those in need, the food bank relies on roughly 400 active volunteers who fill more than 70 shifts weekly. 

The Bigfork Food Bank served more than 110 families giving out 8,382 pounds of groceries in total ahead of Thanksgiving. 

“Normally we distribute about 8,000 pounds a month, and this was all in one day,” said Kathy Kaestner, executive director of the food bank. 

To the numerous churches, restaurants and businesses that provide a free turkey or pumpkin pie to help fill out the table or serve free Thanksgiving meals in the spirit of community, we also provide a hearty thanks. 

After the leftover turkey has been wrapped and the pie served, many of us begin looking to the Christmas and Hanukkah seasons. While we’re rushing off to prepare for the next celebration let’s not forget those still struggling with food for the table and shelter for the night. 

We know the Flathead Valley will continue to provide volunteer hands and donations to keep bolstering those nonprofit organizations that support our neighbors. If you can help out even in a small way it can make a difference. 

As Mother Teresa said, “If you can’t feed a hundred people, then feed just one.”