Food drive part of busy week for VISTA volunteers

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By: Ed Kemmick

This is a busy week for Shametrius Long.

Long, who is in Billings with AmericCorps Volunteers in Service to America, was the main organizer of two events being held today to examine aspects of hunger and homelessness.

And working with another Vista, Sade Johnson, Long organized a food drive this week that will help Family Service Inc. prepare Thanksgiving boxes for needy families.

The first event is the Faith Engagement Panel Discussion and Resource Fair, running all morning at First United Methodist Church, 2800 Fourth Ave. N. It will include a panel discussion of mental health issues at 8:30 a.m. and American Indians at 9:45.

The second event is Food for Thought: A Panel Discussion, from 6 to 8 p.m. in the Royal Johnson Community Room at the Billings Public Library. It will feature representatives from Family Service, Family Promise of Yellowstone County, Housing Authority of Billings, Downtown Billings Alliance, Montana Rescue Mission and the Human Resources Development Council talking about their efforts to alleviate hunger and homelessness. -

Even with all that organizing going on, Long came up with another project—the food drive to support Family Service. She organized that with the help of Johnson, who is with the state/national VISTA, working on the No Kid Hungry campaign, which seeks to expand participation in school breakfast, summer meal and afterschool meal programs.

They enlisted the help of other Vistas, including another from the state/national program—a rare opportunity to cooperate with the local Vistas—and put food collection barrels at four locations: Lucky’s Market, 1603 Grand Ave.; Albertsons, 2334 Central Ave., Billings Public Library, 510 N. Broadway; and First Congregational Church, 310 N. 27th St. Food can be left at the church through Thursday from 1o a.m. to 4 p.m.

All nonperishable food items will be accepted, but there is a particular need for pasta, canned vegetables, fruit, tuna and canned chicken.

The Vistas will collect all the food on Saturday and spend that day sorting it for Family Service. For more information, call Long at 237-6105 or write to her at