Community Effort Launches the New ‘Community Cafe’
COMMUNITY EFFORT LAUNCHES THE NEW “COMMUNITY CAFÉ”
Gallatin Valley Food Bank Leads Community Project to Provide Hot Meals
The Human Resource Development Council’s (HRDC) Gallatin Valley Food Bank announces the opening of the Community Café, located in the former Frontier Pies building at 302 N. 7th Avenue in Bozeman.
The Community Café is an extension of the Gallatin Valley Food Bank and, in partnership with local faith communities and service organizations, is being established to provide hot evening meals to those who need them. The Café will serve people of all ages and will provide hot meals from 5 to 7pm every night of the week.
“Like so many Food Bank initiatives, this came together as a broad-based community partnership,” explains Tim Trzinski, Food Bank Director.
The need for the Café became apparent to the Food Bank during the past year as local demand for food assistance continued to rise substantially. The Food Bank currently provides emergency food services to as many as 3,500 people per month through their food box program. In 2011, they distributed almost 2 million pounds of food to serve local needs. The surge in local demand for food assistance, coupled with feedback from several local congregations provided the impetus for this new offering.
“The faith-based community has been excited about working with us to provide food and host the evening meals. This new effort simply would not be possible without their energy and dedication to those in need” Trzinski says. The Bozeman United Methodist Church, the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, and the Bozeman Seventh Day Adventist Church stepped forward right away as early supporters for the project. Since then, an additional 12 congregations and community organizations have stepped forward to help. According to Trzinski, the Food Bank will need to work closely with as many as 30 local partners (congregations, businesses, individuals) who will host (and cover the costs associated with providing evening meals) at the Café for one or more nights each month. Partner organizations will provide the volunteer staff to help serve meals in the Café. Additional help will be needed in gathering food and supply donations, planting extra rows of produce for use in the meals, and many others.
“HRDC purchased the building because emergency food service is part of the important “safety net” we provide as a local Community Action Agency,” says Grenier. “It was natural for us to take the lead in such an important area of food security.”
The HRDC purchased the Café building from Stockman Bank in February. It had stood vacant for the past seven years and its central location was a large factor in the purchase. For now, the Gallatin Valley Food Bank will prepare the meals at its main facility on Bond Street, and the hot meals will be served at the Community Café.
The community need for food assistance at the Gallatin Valley Food Bank has increased four-fold in the past five years as local individuals and families have struggled with unemployment and lower family incomes.
Those interested in sponsoring evening meals or providing donations in support of the Café should contact the Gallatin Valley Food Bank directly (café@gallatinvalleyfoodbank.org ) or through their web site for more information (www.gallatinvalleyfoodbank.org).
The HRDC and the Food Bank’s plans also include broader-based community services on site including workforce development and culinary training programs in addition to other community partnerships in the near future for the Community Café. “We have had so many people approach us with good ideas of related services and possible expansions and use of the new facility,” says Trzinski. “We want to tap into the community’s vision, energy and passion as we move forward.”