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Montana Ag Network: Essential Eats provides fresh foods to Blackfeet Nation

A Missoula-based nonprofit is helping families in the Blackfeet Nation put food on the table.

Essential Eats Distributors works to deliver fresh foods to outlying reservation communities every month.

“One of our goals is to serve hard-to-reach populations facing food insecurity,” said Sara Wecker, director of Essential Eats Distributors. The organization focuses on families with minor children in the Blackfeet Nation.

They work with Montana farmers and meat packers to provide as much fresh food as they can. The Hutterites of the Birch Creek Colony provide and deliver most of the produce.

“Most times it will be a lot fresher than the store because it’s right from the farm,” said David Kleinsasser, who delivered produce to Heart Butte on Wednesday.

According to Wecker, the October food delivery will provide families with 10 pounds of potatoes, five pounds of onions, two pounds of carrots, and five pounds of ground beef.

“We are serving 140 families in the outlaying communities of the Blackfeet Nation, that’s well over 1,000 meals,” explained Wecker.

The food is dropped at locations like the Heart Butte Mini Store where community members like Janet Running Crane help coordinate between Essential Eats Distributors and the families struggling to access fresh food.

“I think that’s a major problem not only in our community but throughout the reservations in Montana,” said Heart Butte High School Principal Michael Comes At Night.

Students are able to get breakfast and lunch at school, but on nights and weekends, meals become less certain.

“I’m pretty sure some of our students and some of our communities go without sometimes,” said Comes At Night.

It is clear the people appreciate the effort of Essential Eats Distributors.

“When I posted yesterday that we were coming up the word spread quickly,” chuckled Wecker. “People seem very grateful to have the resource,” she added and it’s a resource they are happy to provide.

-Reported by Joe Huisinga/MTN News

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