It's already starting to be a busy summer at the Gallatin Valley Food Bank. Volunteers are getting their hands dirty to bring fresh food to the kitchen table for families around the Valley.
Lettuce, onions, peas, tomatoes and squash have their place on the long list of favorite summer vegetables starting to sprout in the gardens outside of the food bank, helping to keep up the supply of some of the food bank's most demanded items.
"To have local food is always the best method. Our local grocery stores are very generous and give us lots of produce, but it goes very quickly because it's what people want and what people need," said Jill Holder, Operations Manager at the Food Bank.
For five years, the food bank has planted summer gardens that are grown and maintained by volunteers and food bank customers.
"We have several raised beds and a large garden in the back we use them to grow food for our clients who need emergency food assistance," Holder said. "But they're also a great teaching tool."
The benefits of having a community garden go beyond bringing clients fresh tomatoes. They also serve as a learning tool of how to grow your own food at home.
"By growing more of our own, not only does it help feed more people, but it also shows to accessibility of perhaps 'now I can grow my own food for myself and my family,'" Holder explains.
After school gets out, Holder says they see an increase in need for kid-friendly and non-perishable foods.
"You know it's interesting, in November and December people very much think of us during the food-drive season. This time of year, that focus sort of switches in the community and we start seeing the local produce roll in as soon as people have it."
Holder says the food bank will gladly receive any donations, whether it's fresh produce or their most-sought after non-perishables: tuna and peanut butter, anything helps.
The food bank
is always looking for volunteers to help in the garden
or sort and stock donations
. The registration form can be found here