By Martin Kidston
The city of Missoula inked a deal with the Missoula Food Bank on Thursday to provide nearly $300,000 in funding to finish out a room in the organization’s new pantry and lease it for the next seven years to SpectrUM.
SpectrUM plans to conduct a free nutritional program for kids from the new facility, along with on-site science classes. Of the funding provided by the city, roughly $82,000 is planned for exhibits.
Those behind the project said the room provided by SpectrUM will remain open to children as their parents shop for supplies at the Missoula Food Bank, giving kids an education they might not otherwise get.
“I think this is a pretty beautiful partnership,” said Missoula Mayor John Engen, who requested the funding from the Missoula Redevelopment Agency’s Board of Directors. “It’s a way we can start to engage in changing lives in a really meaningful way while providing basic services.”
The board approved the city’s request to contribute $216,000 to finish 1,233 square feet of space in the new 21,000 square-foot Food Bank, and $82,000 to purchase exhibits for the science room.
According to the contract, the city will lease the room for $1 a year for the first seven years, then purchase it at fair market value, minus the initial $298,000 investment. The city will continue to lease the space to SpectrUM after the first seven years, so long as the organization is interested.
“We’re really excited about the opportunity,” said Arron Brock, director the Missoula Food Bank. “SpectrUM has a lot of ideas around really intentional programming. They want to do science Saturdays. They could do free stuff for kids that’s really intentionally based.”
The Missoula Food Bank purchased its new property on Third Street last year to consolidate its programs and enhance its storage and service options.
The organization received grants from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, as well as the city’s Brownfields Revolving Loan Fund, to rid the site of contaminants stemming from past industrial uses and prepare it for construction.
In May of this year, MRA also contributed $35,000 to help the Food Bank improve the public right of way. The organization has started building its $6.1 million facility and expects it to open next spring.
The room dedicated to science and nutritional programming will include its own separate entrance and will be closed off from the rest of the Food Bank. Engen said it will provide dignity to children while their parents undergo the intake process and stock up at the Food Bank.
“In some ways, there’s some stigma associated with that wait,” Engen said. “Through MRA, we invest about $300,000 purchasing a condo slice of the Food Bank. We are true partners in the project.”
The funding comes from tax increment financing in Urban Renewal District II.
Contact reporter Martin Kidston at firstname.lastname@example.org