Big Sandy Food BankThanksgiving Food Distribtion
November 25, 2020
34 families in the Big Sandy area received Angel Baskets on Monday Evening, November 16th. The baskets include turkeys and other fixings to prepare a Thanksgiving meal for the receiving families. The Angel Basket program has been a staple of the Big Sandy Holiday season for 4 years now. It is organized by the Angel Committee, which is a project of the GFWC Fort Benton Women's Club. The Angel Committee also organizes baskets for Christmas and the Angel Tree program in Fort Benton.
Terry Grant, who is heavily involved in running the Big Sandy Food Bank, spoke with me about the distribution. In years past, the baskets were picked up at the Big Sandy Church of God. He explains that the distribution to 34 families is a significant increase over years past. Last year, the program served around 20 families in our town. The increased need is due to a larger reach into the surrounding communities and increased need.
This year, due to Covid concerns, the baskets were distributed from the garage of Big Sandy Activities. Families in need who registered for the program received the foodstuffs for their Thanksgiving dinner, including turkeys, cranberry sauce, yams, pumpkin pie mix, olives, and other holiday favorites. Baskets also include gift certificates to cover any overlooked needs. The gift certificates varied in amounts based on the family size and were good for the Big Sandy and Fort Benton grocery stores. Ingredients were collected from local organizations. In total, the program served 338 people in Chouteau County. In addition to the 34 households in our town, 62 households in Fort Benton were also served.
Next month, another Angel Basket distribution will be done for Christmas. The baskets will again include food for the holiday meal. In addition, it will feature gifts for children in the families receiving baskets. When parents filled out forms to receive baskets, they also filled in their children's ages, interests, color preferences, clothing sizes, and toy requests. The
Angel Committee then makes arrangements for gifts to be purchased to be distributed with baskets.
Angel Baskets were picked up by LeaAnn Williams and transported to town for distribution. The distribution this year was staffed by volunteers who have been helping out with the Big Sandy Food Bank. Over the past few months, the food bank has been coordinating the distribution of boxes through the Farmers to Families Covid relief program as an augmentation of their regular services. The increased food distribution has brought with it much needed growth in volunteers serving. Terry Grant explained that box recipients and other members of the community stepped up to help with the increased workload. The same volunteers are now distributing the Angel Food Baskets.
The deadline for registering for Angel Baskets has passed, but families in need can still receive assistance with holiday needs from the Big Sandy Food Bank, which distributes holiday specific food for both Thanksgiving and Christmas. This includes turkeys or hams for families. However, the local food bank is not currently allowing recipients to "shop" for their supplies in the pantry themselves, as they have in the past. Instead, recipients fill out a form indicated what they need and Terry Grant fills their orders. This is done to limit volunteer and recipient's potential exposure to Covid. Since May, the local food bank has doubled the amount of food per family member it is distributing. This has been done to meet increased demands as a result of the economic impact of the pandemic.
Terry explains that the ability of the Food Bank to meet needs is a direct result of the generosity of Big Sandy residents and local businesses. Donations that support the food bank come from our town and the money remains here. Food purchased for the Food Bank comes from the Big Sandy Grocery Store. Terry Grant explained that donations can be given to him or deposited in the Food Bank's account at the Grocery Store.