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Brock stepping down as Missoula Food Bank’s executive director after nearly 8 years of growth and change

Aaron Brock will leave the Missoula Food Bank as its executive director next month after nearly 8 years at the post. (Renata Birkenbuel/Missoula Current file)

The long-time head of the Missoula Food Bank who advocated for the agency’s relocation and service expansion announced his plans to resign from the leadership post this week to pursue a new opportunity with another organization.

Aaron Brock has served the food bank as its executive director for more than seven years, dating back to the organization’s old location on Third Street. He also served as the food bank’s director of development from 2003 to 2008.

His last day with the organization is Feb. 25.

“I’m so proud of the work that has happened here at the food bank, and I feel humbled and grateful to have been a part of these past 7 plus years,” Brock said. “It has been a privilege to work with this talented team and so many generous and skilled volunteers and partners, and I will always have a very special place in my heart for Missoula Food Bank & Community Center.”

After stepping in as executive director in 2014, Brock and partners began their search for a new location and the funding that would be needed to make it a reality.

With growth in Missoula and rising needs for food assistance, the old facility had become outdated and was no longer able to meet the organization’s needs.

After exploring dozens of sites, the food bank found property at Wyoming and Catlin streets that once served as an auto-parts and service yard. With city partnership, the food bank acquired an Environmental Assessment and Brownfields Cleanup grant to clean the parcel.

A fundraising campaign followed, bringing in more than $6.5 million. The organization’s new facility also took its mission beyond food assistance and grew to provide a children’s learning center, a kitchen and other community needs.

Most recently, a satellite clinic opened on the property, operated by the Partnership Health Center.

“Aaron leaves big shoes to fill,” said Kari Schauss, board chair. “The Board is so grateful for Aaron’s leadership and service, and knows that he will be missed. At this time, the Board Leadership Committee is forming a task force to strategize for succession.”

The organization also has undergone change at the board level, something the new director will step into. In 2018, the board changed the organization’s bylaws to require that 50% of its members live in a household meeting U.S. Housing and Urban Development’s definition of “very low income,” at least at the time of their recruitment.

In 2020, it also hired a director of “organizing and equity” and created an anti-racism task force to help identify and address racial equity gaps.

“In his 7 and a half years with the food bank, Brock exemplified our core values and supported the organization in fighting food insecurity, dismantling racism, and promoting equity,” said Ashley Ostheimer Hilliard, the food bank’s chair elect. “We wish him all the best as we look forward to all the food bank and community center can continue to accomplish through community support.”

Brock is leaving the food bank to serve as the Montana director of development for The Nature Conservancy.