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Local partnership helps stock Montana food pantries

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RONAN – Mission Mountain Food Enterprise Center processed donated butternut squash that was distributed through the Montana Food Bank Network to food banks and pantries throughout Montana.

Karl Sutton of Fresh Roots Farm in Polson had a seed contract for Lower Salmon Valley Squash, which is native to this region. Sutton had an abundance of the leftover squash and he contacted Mission Mountain Food Enterprise Center to see if it could be processed. MMFEC stepped in to process the squash by roasting, pureeing and freezing it. This squash puree product was originally created for MMFEC’s Farm to Institution program, which provides local Montana institutions (schools, hospitals, colleges) with local, fresh (or frozen) processed products.

The Montana Food Bank Network is a statewide organization that “works to end hunger in Montana through food acquisition and distribution, education and advocacy.” This squash project started in the Fall of 2016, when MFBN was able to “distribute almost 2,000 pounds of organic squash to over 20 emergency food service providers consisting of senior centers, food pantries, and soup kitchens across the state,” stated Brent Weisgram, Chief Operations Officer of MFBN. The emergency food service providers used the squash “in many healthy baking recipes, soups, in addition to baby food.” This year, MFBN is “able to preserve and distribute statewide to any of our 145+ partner service providers consisting of soup kitchens, food pantries, senior centers, youth homes, women and children’s shelters, and boys and girls clubs that are interested.”

Mission Mountain Food Enterprise Center is the food & ag business development center of Lake County Community Development Corporation in Ronan. Lake County Community Development Corporation is a non-profit organization that focuses on economic development in Lake, Mineral and Sanders counties, as well as the Flathead Indian Reservation. MMFEC has a 13,000 square foot food processing facility that is used by local food businesses, and is also one of the four Food & Ag Development Centers in the state of Montana. For more information about MMFEC, please call 406-676-5901.

For more information about MFBN, please call 406-721-3825.

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