BUTTE — For the last couple of months, officials at the Butte Rescue Mission have reported a rise in food insecurity in the community. For one staff member, that issue is personal which is why she dedicates her time as a volunteer in a community outreach program that heads out into the Mining City to help feed the homeless.
"For about a year of me and my kids’ life this is how we lived," says Misty Johnston, the director of operations and programming at the Butte Rescue Mission.
For the last four years, Misty Johnston has been a full-time employee of the Butte Rescue Mission but she and her staff recently began volunteering with a food delivery program that brings food to those in need.
"We lived this way. And they would give us extra soup so that way when we went home we would have lunch and we would have dinner," says Johnston.
Three days a week an outreach representative from Community Health, Action Inc., or Western Montana Mental Health heads out to known destinations where homeless people camp in town and the staff with the Butte Rescue Mission joins as volunteers when they are needed.
"A lot of our staff that have went didn’t realize that there were homeless camps. They didn’t realize the way these people had to live," says Johnston.
The homeless outreach program delivers about 80 lunches to homeless camps in Rocker, behind Walmart and the Butte Plaza Mall among other places, and Johnston says data shows that there are over 150 people living on the streets in campers or makeshift campsites in Butte.
The Rescue Mission offers food daily and has a pantry, but Johnston says there are still barriers for people to get the food they need and that is why the program is necessary.
"They don’t have like vehicles or they are out of reach of the bus so they still need help and they still need to be fed and served. So we try to care for them too," says Johnston.