Food Bank meets Big Sandy needs

Erik Sietsema was in "The Mountaineer" last week sharing a wonderful Easter story. Sietsema is the sky pilot of the Big Sandy Church of God and for the past few years he and his great team have taken over the Food Bank. They are serving more than ever and are in need of help as well as groceries to help people around here who need help.

The Big Sandy Food Bank is serving a huge number of people. They are helping 77 people and that is 18 families.

"We are doing more than we ever have," said Sietsema.

What has helped the Big Sandy Food Bank is joining up with Set Free Ministries in Great Falls. Set Free is a rehabilitation center whose clients go around and get food from Great Falls grocery stores who want to donate it. they distribute that food not only in Great Falls but to outlaying towns. So, every Saturday a truck or van comes to Fort Benton and someone from the Big Sandy Food Bank goes to Fort Benton and picks up a weekly supply of mostly perishable products like bread, produce and bakery goods.

Sietsema says that some weeks there is nothing in Fort Benton and other weeks the load of food cannot fit in two cars.

"Drivers are needed for the Fort Benton trip," added Sietsema. "We all work on a schedule. Call me at 399-3803 to get in the rotation. You will be directly involved in putting food in people's pantries. It is all local and all very good."

In the meantime the Food Bank in Big Sandy continues to distribute canned goods and other things necessary for all households once a month.

It is interesting that these days a needy person can shop from the shelves in the Food Bank instead of just getting boxes of food. Dietary needs are being better met. It is stop and shop, no more food boxes.

"That makes it a lot more efficient, "added Sietsema. "We are putting a lot of effort in figuring out specific dietary needs. It always works better if people are getting what they need and we have eliminated expired food."

They do have expired foods and will give them out in an emergency like a freezer broke down or something or an emergency distribution. But as a rule, expired foods are a thing of the past.

Sietsema said that the Food Bank is getting quite a bit of meat these days, pork, deer, and beef, all frozen.

And on Saturdays sometimes there is a distribution of non frozen meat from Great Falls.

The Food Bank is serving many senior citizens these days and always lots of kids from families who need help in getting ends to meet in a month.

"We are able to do what we do because the community is behind us. It is a huge blessing," said Sietsema.

Sietsema wanted to say again that they couldn't do anything like they are doing without the community helping out in so many ways.

Sietsema pointed out that Terry Grant runs mostly everything right now and keeps track of what they need and when they need it.

And Karli Phillips helps out in distribution. She has been with the Food Bank a long time and knows how everything should be distributed.

Sietsema said he could not get along without them and their crews.

The needs are always great and there is no time better for giving to the Food Bank than Easter. They break down their needs into various catagories like vegetables, soup, dry good, condiments, beverages, hot cereal and cold cereal, miscellaneous, fruit, baking goods and desserts.

What the Food Bank needs now in each of those catagories is white beans, refried beans, carrots, creamed corn, mixed vegetables, olives, peas, tomato paste and tomato sauce. Many canned soups are always needed.

Macaroni and cheese, macaroni, sloppy Joe packets, gravy packets and taco seasoning packets.

Fruit cocktail, Mandarin oranges and pineapple

Jelly straws, crunchy and creamy peanut butter and tuna fish

Cracked wheat hot cereal and in the beverage department apple juice, grape juice and tang mix

Catsup, mayonnaise and mustard are always needed along with pepper and salt.

For further information contact Erik Sietsema at 399-3803.