In short: Everyone is welcome at the North Valley Food Bank

Are you struggling with high heating costs or thinking about skipping meals to pay your utilities during the cold winter months? Have you been affected by skyrocketing rent or unexpected medical bills? Whatever your situation, North Valley Food Bank (NVFB) is here to support you. In 2022, nearly 4,000 of your neighbors received food from NVFB, including more than 800 new families. For many people, entering a food bank for the first time was difficult. One customer shared, “I never wanted to get food assistance, but I was in for a surprise. NVFB has contributed greatly to high food prices. Now I don’t worry about whether my children are eating properly at the table.”

Let us take you to our grocery store. Store hours are Wednesdays from noon to 6:00 p.m. and Thursdays from 10:00 a.m. to 1:00 p.m. To avoid crowds and long waiting times, we recommend visiting outside of the first store hours. When you walk through the front door, you’ll first notice the colorful mural “Whitefish Welcomes You” by Bozeman artist Alyssa Shaw. The wall represents our sense of unity and that we are here for each other.

Visit the welcome sign to check in with one of our friendly volunteer resource assistants. If it’s your first time, they’ll help you complete the customer intake form by asking a few general questions to support our grants and required nonprofit reporting. NVFB has no eligibility requirements and we will never ask for proof of your ID or income. All personal information is stored in a confidential database and is not shared with other organizations.

After registration, you will be invited to grab a grocery cart and start shopping. You can take as much as you need. If you have kids, they can enjoy a variety of books and coloring activities while you shop, or they can join you as you browse the grocery store and find our popular kid-friendly foods in the cooler. Our inventory changes weekly due to donations, federal supplies, and purchases. We do our best to make the following food items available: Canned Vegetables, Canned Fruit, Cereals, Pasta, Breakfast, Bread, Dairy, Sundries, and Rounded Meats. We also offer home-cured wild game as it is available. During the harvest season, we love to support local farmers and ranchers, so you can find a variety of fresh, local produce.

Before you check out, stop by our tasting table to learn about our Montana-grown produce of the month from our program manager, Kristen. You can choose from recipes like mouth-watering lentil hummus, creative brussel sprout salad or delicious broccoli soup. All prepared meals are prepared in house. Take home recipes to recreate delicious Montana-grown foods for your family! At check-in, a volunteer will help you bag your groceries and carry them to your car.

If grocery shopping seems too much, you can visit us on Thursdays between 3pm and 5pm during drive-thru hours to pick up a prepackaged grocery box. If you live in one of our neighboring communities, we host a mobile pantry at the Trego Civic Center on Fridays from 10-11am; Olney Store Fridays 11:30-11:45 a.m.; and the Izaak Walton Inn in Essex on the first and third Mondays of each month from 10:30-11 a.m.

Sophie Albert is the Executive Director of the North Valley Food Bank. Albert’s monthly Whitefish Pilot column covers food bank events, rural food security, community events and more. gives an idea about, in short.