Food, Family and Friendship

By Beacon Staff

People may still be digesting those fantastic Thanksgiving turkey and ham feasts that were customarily served with mashed potatoes, sweet yams and pumpkin pie. Yet it is time to ready ourselves for more food, family and friendship. Winter solstice is an easy time of year to be grateful for the joys of life and give freely to others.

The holidays are a traditional time to ignore the political brinksmanship of Washington and focus on what is truly important.

Food brings people together. If you enjoy plenty, give generously to hungry families. The North Valley and Flathead food banks need donations of food or time during these cold months.

Kalispell parents and public school kids are fortunate to have Jennifer Montague as the food services director. Montague undertook graduate studies in nutrition and sustainable food systems from Montana State University.

Montague, along with assistant Katie Wheeler, assure that students have access to more local foods. Recently this dynamic duo partnered with Lower Valley Meat Processing to bring local beef back into Kalispell schools.

Whitefish is similarly lucky to have Jay Stagg as its food director. Stagg is responsible for the positive upgrades in nutrition for Whitefish students. Stagg assured that Whitefish students have access to an outdoor garden and future greenhouse, while enjoying nutritious breakfasts, lunches and snacks.

As family arrives for the holiday season, households will undoubtedly eat more. Hansen Farms has some spectacularly delicious cuts of lamb and pork raised here in the Flathead Valley. Scott Hansen is a big-hearted man and happy to bend your ear explaining his top shelf cuts of meat products.

Eaters are looking for better access to great quality food. Families can use the new interactive Farm Hands map at www.nourishtheflathead.org to source local farms and ranches that are the growing force behind Flathead agriculture.

It is the power of giving and joy of family that keeps our society bonds strong. Family and friends stand together regardless of our seasonal bickering.

The local beers crafted by head brewer Joe Barberis at Whitefish’s Great Northern Brewing Company help produce plenty of family joy. Grownup brothers and sisters often get along while enjoying a mug of Good Medicine to cheer the meals and memories.

Family is critical in defining the importance of self. Rarely is anything more important than friendship and community. Most locals move to the Flathead because of the open public lands, clean water and the easy access to wild lands in places like Glacier National Park.

Even during the holidays, the Flathead is an outdoors community. We live to ski, hike, bike, snowmobile and ice skate. It is part of who we are as a people of this great state. We may have traveled here for our love of the great outdoors, but it is the friendships that developed with time that keeps our hearts grounded.

The Flathead has a strong sense of place. It is a close-knit community full of greatness like the Flathead Valley Community College in Kalispell or the fantastic public amenities that have been built in Whitefish.

We choose to live in the Flathead because the people of our community work to make it a better place to raise our kids. We trust that better days are ahead and no amount of petty or political squabbling can break the bonds of friendship.

The Flathead enjoys faith in others. We are blessed with food, honor our friends, and love our family. People are the true reason for the season. Give generously to help others.

Here’s wishing you the joy of family and hope that our bonds of friendship remain strong. Thanks Flathead, you’re the best. Peace and Shalom. Enjoy the holiday season and Merry Christmas.

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