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Tuesday, March 20, 2018

Kyle Vuille photo

Food pantry reflects on a successful 2017 and hopeful former director may return

By Kyle Vuille

Ranger-Review Staff Writer

“We’ve had clients I didn’t even know existed in the community and they all know each other and help each other,” Dawson County Food Bank board member Kathy Ackerman said on Wednesday morning while clients and other volunteers buzzed around the food bank on Benham Street in Glendive.

Although missing their long-time leader Jean Walters, the food bank organzers did well this holiday season with a successful drive to fill Thanksgiving and Christmas baskets for those in need in the community.

The food bank gave out 140 Christmas dinner baskets that included a turkey or a ham, gravy, potatoes, yams, cookies and a pie of their choice.

“A local community member donated 80 hams for the Christmas baskets,” Ackerman said. “The community has been very generous.”.

She said a local 4-H group donated a cookie kit for folks to bake and frost their own cookies. She said a local also donated Christmas stockings  for kids under 10 and $10 Albertsons gift cards for children over 10.

The food bank served 153 households this past December with 123 of those households with children under 18 and 65 of the household with members working part-time jobs or on disability.

The food bank continues to serve more families every year.

“The numbers are pretty consistently growing,” Ackerman said.

The numbers for December have grown from 118 in 2014 to 143 in 2015 and 149 for 2016. Ackerman added that in the past month or so the food bank has seen one or two new clients a week.

“We have people driving out here, spending their money on gas just to get here,” Ackerman said. “Everyone has a story.”

The food bank makes special accommodations for other occasions besides the holidays. Food bank volunteers stock children’s birthday bags that include all the fixings to bake a cake as well as an age and gender appropriate toy.

As far as needed donations, Ackerman and a few others at the food bank said they would love donations of coffee – which always goes fast according to Ackerman – sugar, creamer, tuna, ketchup, spaghetti sauce, syrup, flour, rice dinners, salsa, ramen noodles (crowd favorites are beef and chicken), dog food, cat food and disposable cake/baking pans.

Ackerman said there are certain items that cannot be donated by the grocery stores, but there are still a need for them. Those items  include laundry detergent, shampoo, conditioner, toilet paper, baby diapers (size 2 and up), miscellaneous toiletries and other items associated with baby care.

“We wouldn’t survive without the community buy-in,” Ackerman’s husband Bob noted.

Since the food bank director’s absence due to health issues, the food bank has hired Amber McPherson. 

Ackerman and McPherson both emphasized they are hopeful Walters will be able to come back and work with clients.

With Walters in mind, food bank board members are encouraging the community to send Walters birthday cards, (though her 85th birthday was Jan. 5) as she transitions to the Billings Health and Rehabilitation Center.

Please address cards to:

Billings Health and Rehabilitation 

Room 522

2115 Central Ave.

Billings, MT 59102

Ackerman added if anyone in the community is interested in volunteering at the food bank, please come in during business hours, Monday through Friday 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. for a tour.

Reach Kyle Vuille at

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