The Montana Food Bank Network’s Hungry in Montana 2014 report was released this week, highlighting the experiences of food pantry clients across the state. 

The report is based on a survey of approximately 200 pantry clients from rural, urban, and reservation areas. Public Policy Manager Lori Anne Burhop said the report is compiled every other year.

"The report is conducted to get a better view of who's coming for emergency food in Montana, the reasons they are seeking food assistance, and to get a better understanding of what that experience of food insecurity is across the state," Burhop said. "What the report indicates is that people in Montana are working as hard as they can, and are still not able to make ends meet. They are working at full time jobs with low pay, or part time jobs with few or no benefits."

Burhop said Montana's seniors are also struggling with hunger.

"There are a lot of seniors who have worked hard all their lives and are now struggling to pay for housing, medicine as well as food," she said.

Burhop said the report also details recommended actions that can be taken to help remedy the problem of hunger in Montana.

"There are programs from the community level all the way up to the federal level," Burhop said. "Here at the MFBN, we advocate for the public food programs, so the Child Nutrition reauthorization is something we work hard for. We work for legislation to strengthen the child programs such as WIC, the Smart Food Program, the School Meal Program. Summer Food and WIC are very underutilized here in Montana, and can both help families meet their food needs."

Burhop encourages Montanans to donate on a regular basis to their local food pantries and to encourage their state lawmakers to pass legislation to assist the poor and underemployed in the state.