A $20,000 gift from Northwest Farm Credit Services and CoBank has enabled the Montana Food Bank Network to purchase a new forklift for their warehouse in Missoula.

CEO of the Montana Food Bank Network Gayle Gifford said on Tuesday, January 7, that the monetary gift was especially appreciated because the equipment it purchased was new, instead of used.

"This has been extra special for us, not just because it came during the holidays, but because it is a new piece of equipment," Gifford said. "Typically, we receive a lot of used and hand-me-down equipment, so the fact that we can start off brand new is great for us."

The Montana Food Bank Network needs at least two forklifts because they are a central distribution point for tons of food shipped out every week to food banks and shelters throughout the state.

"We are an organization that services over 200 or more organizations throughout the state, and the Missoula Food Bank is one of them," Gifford said. "We do have a number of other partner agencies not only in Missoula, but also around the state, and so we have a fairly large warehouse, and a lot of food that goes out to the state comes through us. We generate probably about eight million pounds a year."

Gifford said Montana has a large population of people that struggle with hunger issues.

"Here in Montana, one in seven of our neighbors are going without food on a regular basis," Gifford said. "This is beyond any other assistance they may be receiving through SNAP, or other commodities and they still need help in meeting that need."

Northwest Farm Services provides financing for farmers, ranchers and other agricultural businesses in Montana, while CoBank provides loans, leases and export financing to agribusiness and rural power, water and communications providers throughout the country.

CEO of the Montana Food Bank Network Gayle Gifford