Mission: To assume a leadership role in feeding the hungry by recovering, securing, purchasing, and delivering quality food and other products while playing a strong education and advocacy role in hunger-related issues; doing all within our power to address root causes of hunger and encourage economic growth.
Programs: Billings food bank was formed in 1982. Originally designed to serve agencies having food programs, and primarily in yellowstone county. It has now evolved into a truly independent food bank responding to requests from anywhere, throughout the state, the country and, in many cases beyond. If we have the ability to help, we do. In the past year are stats are as follows: 99,385 food boxes provided *note we also maintain a baby pantry and a pet food pantry. 64,896 food boxes provided through our senior nutrition program17,516 food boxes provided through our voucher system254,683 meals, sack lunches, back packs provided through fortin culinary center (in addition to boxes)15,855 holiday food services17,063 meals provided to boys & girl club locations. (note we are now doing 2,000 meals weekly)in the last five years we have also established the fortin culinary center where we teach culinary job training skills. We have so far had 98 graduates of this program with a 99% success rate of those truly wanting to work. The demand for people with culinary skills is tremendous. We have a very strict set of rules for our students as there is no charge for the course, but if you dont show up you are not allowed to continue. We have literally changed lives with this program. We are truly proud to have moved many of our students from a generational norm of living on the system, to now being productive members of the work force. Our fortin culinary center has also become a source of revenue and training for our students, and others. We have a large reception hall seating 300 which can be divided into two sections for meetings, weddings, receptions, company parties, memorial services, job training sessions, serv safe classes, etc. We serve many banquets on a regular basis, which of course, is tremendous training for our students. Last year we opened our fortin caf and gift shop in response to a neighborhood demand, which has now turned in to a popular breakfast and lunch venue. It is also a great training field for our students, many of whom we actually hire. We have two fulltime chefs, one teaches our classes and one runs the caf. We also encourage social enterprise by promoting and selling art and other items for area artists. And, we rent our beautiful commercial kitchen to entrepreneurs wishing to start or expand their food related business. We do this on an hourly basis so young businesses do not have to incure a heavy debt load as their business develops. We have been the catalyst for many businesses that have now grown and started their own places. We provide cooking and nutrition classes to not only our recipients, but to youth and others as our time and facility use allows. We serve as a training ground for many folks with special needs, and have actually hired several . In our spare time we also plant, harvest and maintain a 6. 5 acre garden located at oscars park.
I'm very disappointed in the lack of transparency of the operation and finances of the Billings Food Bank. There have refused to share details of their operations with other local agencies and they continually post inaccurate information on their website. As an example, they do NOT provide food to at least six (probably many more) of the agencies listed on their website. Yet, they refuse to remove the names, even after numerous requests.
The Billings Food Bank is a phenomenal organization that serves the largest county in Montana. It distributes more than 7 million pounds of food to support agencies who deal directly with the hungry. Even with all of the amazing services it provides, it operates on less than 2% of its budget for salaries and fund raising expenses. It is an amazing model of how a food bank should be run.