Nourishing People

Given the propensity of politicians to cut funding for food programs, it’s great to see locals remaining vigilant to help assure that food is readily available to those seeking nourishment

By Mike Jopek

It’s August, a time when
locals care more about taking back summer and enjoying the outdoors than the political dramas that have seemingly overwhelmed the news cycle and electorate. Many people simply ignore the political commotion and tune in to the landscape after Memorial Day.

My summer has been extremely busy on the farm. Farming is a great life and I enjoy nearly every moment of the day from sunrise to sunset. Growing food has never been more important, and many consumers are keenly aware of the importance of good, nutritious food.

In what today seems like a past life, I chaired the Montana House committee on agriculture. Montanans are lucky; our climate is conducive to growing many crops across the state. Locally, it’s good to see Flathead cherries back on the scene. Soon crops such as honeycrisp apples will again sweeten the taste buds of local eaters.

All Northwest Montana farmers are busy growing food. The Downtown Whitefish Farmers Market has become so productive that growers are traveling long distances to peddle farm-fresh goods to hungry families.

Last year, a local charitable organization called Nourish the Flathead began distributing free senior coupons to elderly people seeking fresh food. This year Nourish is again active and continuing its successful endeavor.

With a generous donation from the Whitefish Community Foundation, Nourish is also helping prepare senior meals for area residents. Working with the North Valley Food Bank, Nourish volunteers are preparing tasty food delivered to hungry people.

Nourish the Flathead was originally known as the group that created the farm map of the Flathead Valley. It’s a comprehensive guide on how to get food from local farmers. Nourish evolved from dedicated farmhand volunteers to helping feed hungry families, building school gardens and helping secure farmland for young aspiring farmers. Search its website for details.

There are many positive aspects to nonprofit groups like Nourish. Given the propensity of politicians to cut funding for food programs, it’s great to see locals remaining vigilant to help assure that food is readily available to those seeking nourishment.

Most locals know Scott Brant as a cornerstone at Montana Coffee Traders. Brant has been at the roaster since day one. Brant and my friend R.C. Beall, who owns Coffee Traders, were roasting fresh coffee in the valley back in 1981. This dynamic duo clearly knows the art to roasting a good cup of Joe. Many, like me, cannot imagine how we could possibly work as hard on the farm without that fresh morning coffee.

Today Brant also makes bi-weekly food runs from the Flathead to Browning, where hunger is still rampant. Brant’s old truck is typically full of local goods like food and clothing. Many locals and groups like Nourish the Flathead, the Soroptomist, the Whitefish Methodist Church and the North Valley Food Bank are helping fill Brant’s old delivery truck.

People like Brant and groups like Nourish the Flathead would not be able to provide the services to hungry citizens without the help of locals who donate time, food, cash or clothes. It is humbling to see my fellow citizens work hard to serve others. It is this kind of goodness that many find most
rewarding.

Much of life is about service. Many people do a small part to make sure that fellow residents are not hungry or cold. Sadly, many politicians have forgotten this basic need of society. Thankfully, local people are stepping forward to again fill the vacuum.

Most of us are lucky and blessed to have much food. If you have extra food or some lingering coins in your wallet, consider donating to groups like Nourish or people like Brant. There is little more important than assuring that our fellow citizens eat well.

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