The Livingston Food Resource Center revises programs for the community

Samantha Hill

The Livingston Food Resource Center is changing some of its programs to help feed and support more people in Park County.

LFRC Director Micheal McCormick said the facility is offering more programs to better assist community members with the stigma of needing assistance as well as feeding them.

One of the programs in the works is the Senior Dinner Program, which will provide supplemental dinners for seniors.

McCormick said he along with a few interns from Montana State University discovered that even with the Meals on Wheels federal lunch program for seniors, clients were still not getting enough to eat every day or they were saving their lunches for dinner.

He also said the seniors weren’t always eating the healthiest meals in accordance with certain health problems like diabetes or high blood pressure. In response, LFRC created a pilot program in which it delivers five microwave-safe meals a week made in the facility that are low sodium, low sugar and almost all made from locally sourced ingredients.

When the seniors were asked what kind of foods they would not be interested in, there was only one that stood out.

“For some reason, a lot of people said they don’t like bison or aren’t willing to try it,” McCormick said.

Starting in a few weeks, 15 seniors will test out the program for 90 days. After that trial period, the program will be reevaluated and made open to more seniors.

The program is mostly paid for by the Livingston Community Foundation, but seniors are also asked to contribute $3 per dinner or $15 a week. But McCormick said he would never turn down  someone who needs food.

On the other side of the spectrum, McCormick has made changes to its School Backpack Program.

For starters, the name was changed to the Healthy Weekend Program. The program provides food to children who may not be receiving enough food during the weekends through reduced-price or free lunches.

Another change revolved around a problem McCormick said the program was facing with some elementary school children getting bullied for their association with it.

After mulling over ideas, he realized the best way to avoid stigma was to allow any student to take food for the weekend. This way no one is singled out.

This new measure started two weeks ago at local elementary schools and will possibly start soon at Sleeping Giant Middle School.

When asked whether the program could be taken advantage of, McCormick said its always a possibility.

“I think anything can be taken advantage of if it is offered to enough people, but I can’t let a few bad apples take away the program from someone who needs it,” he said.  

The LFRC moved into its new facility at 202 S. Second St. a year and a half ago. The Center features a kitchen for food preparation and classes. It also works with businesses around town to provide fresh food for the food pantry.