Food for months: Cat-Griz food drive nets largest bounty in state history

The Cat-Griz food drive netted enough food to stock the shelves at the Missoula Food Bank for months to come.

When it comes to football scores and college enrollment figures, Bozeman has had Missoula’s number for the past several years.

But when it comes to raising food for the needy, Missoula wears the crown.

Not that anyone’s counting.

The biggest food drive in the state generated its biggest response ever this year, netting nearly 800,000 pounds of food for hungry Montanans.

In this year’s “Can the Cats” food drive, the University of Montana raised 394,078 pounds of food. Montana State raised 389,093 pounds of food.

The 5,000-pound difference marks the slimmest margin of “victory” in the food drive’s 18-year history.

“There’s no loser in this competition,” said Aaron Brock, executive director of the Missoula Food Bank. “At the end of the day, there’s well over a half-million pounds of food to help people struggling with hunger in our neighborhoods.”

The Missoula Food Bank moved into its new $6.5 million facility on Wyoming Street in May, where it can better meet the needs of its clients.

Last year, the organization served more than 21,000 people, or nearly one in six Missoula residents – up 14 percent over the prior year.

“The incredible growth of this food drive has been a significant contributor to our food bank’s ability to keep pace with the increased need in our community,” Brock said. “The quality and diversity of food will line our shelves during the winter months – a time that is particularly hard for families living on the margins.”