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Block party to stock Mission Valley food pantry

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ST. IGNATIUS – There will be fun for the whole family and an opportunity to support the community at the second annual back to school block party. All proceeds from the event will benefit the Mission Valley Food Pantry. 

“It brings everyone together. The kids got so excited to be able to help out and have fun (last year),” said Louise Mitchell of the Confederated Salish and Kootenai Tribes’ women, infants and children nutrition program.

This year, the event will be held at Good Old Days Park in St. Ignatius on Sept. 21 from 1 to 4 p.m. Mitchell came up with the idea for a block party last fall when she noticed the food pantry was low on food. She wanted to get the national No Kid Hungry organization involved in the community. 

No Kid Hungry works with communities to eliminate childhood hunger.  At the time of the event, No Kid Hungry would match funds raised for the food pantry up to $2,000. She partnered with CSKT social services and the food pantry to put on the event.

The first annual block party raised $2,000, and No Kid Hungry donated $2,000 in matching funds. The food pantry received $4,000 in funding from the event. Community members donated 300 pounds of food as their entry fees to the event. The proceeds from the event fed families at the food pantry and supported operational costs. The pantry provides food to about 2,900 individuals in need each year. 

Last year, 218 community members attended the event. According to Mitchell, it was an impressive turnout for a first-time event. She hopes this year’s event will be even larger. Mitchell has reached out to local businesses, tribal departments and schools to include them in the event. Last year’s event featured haircuts and massages from CSKT Tribal Health, crafts, biking and native games. 

An obstacle course, bouncy house, crafts and jousting are among the highlights planned for this year’s event. The fee for entry will be one non-perishable food item per person.

Mitchell said the food bank is particularly in need of peanut butter, canned fruits and vegetables and canned tuna fish. Mitchell’s goal is to collect more than 300 pounds of food. 

Mitchell said food insecurity is a reality for many families living on the reservation. She hopes the event will raise awareness about the support necessary to run a food pantry. “I’d like to see more food pantries, one in every town on the reservation,” she said. 

Mitchell said those who aren’t able to contribute money or canned goods could volunteer their time at local pantries, and the food pantries need help. 

According to Mitchell, the event is perfect for anyone hoping to have a day of family fun while benefitting a good cause. “If you come, you’ll be donating food for those in need and building community awareness that it doesn’t take much to help someone out,” she said. “A little bit can make a big impact.”


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